I have written a few blogs on the subject of allowing INT FCStone to escape the disastrous meltdown of OptionSellers.com without any consequences for itself. This is the first time in the history of futures trading that this has happened. The futures markets have always relied on the integrity of the clearing members to make the system work.
Make no mistake, OptionSellers was only the trading advisor for the clients that it signed up. INT FCstone was the clearing member who placed the trades on the futures markets. They guaranteed that ”all of the transactions are either hedges or contemplate actual delivery and receipt of the property and payment therefor”.
This is absolutely the opposite of what OptionSellers was doing, as described in their book and all of their promotional literature. It is clear that they were only using INT IFSone to sell naked put options to collect the premiums. They never were hedges and there was never an expectation that actual delivery would be made. Their strategy was their expectation that these options would expire worthless and they would simply pocket the premiums.
No executives of INT FCstone can testify in a court of law that they were unaware of this without committing perjury.
In the case of the CFTC , it would be interesting to have hearings with the CFTC appearing before Congress to explain the difference between this case and a 2013 case where the CFTC fined INT FCStone $1.5 million and forced them to absorb losses of $127 million.
What happened to change their position? What persuaded them to let the clearing member INT FCStone entirely off the hook this time while holding innocent investors liable for all of these losses.
As I indicated in a previous blog ”Where is Gary Gensler When We Need Him ”, Chairman Gensler took the leadership in establishing the Coalition for Futures Reform.
Gensler met weekly with a private sector group who successfully lobbied for the enactment of the Wall Street Reform Consumer Protection Act of 2010, popularly known as the Dodd-Frank legislation.
We are at another crisis point in the history of the futures industry Without the integrity of the clearing members, who all trades must go through, there can be no industry. That is why I am calling for a new ”Coalition for Futures Trading Reform”.
It is equally important that members of Congress hear from their constituents. It appears that the Senate Agriculture Committee will hold hearings on this matter later this year. I spent my career as a lawyer, and later as a lawyer-lobbyst working with Congress. I will be happy to advise people on the easiest way to contact their members of Congress. Some lawyers are representing the victims of OptionSellers/INT FCStone. I will be happy to work with them as well.
Michael R. McLeod