Ex-UBS Metals Trader's Fate in Hands of Jury in Conspiracy Case

(Bloomberg) -- A jury is weighing the charge against former UBS Group AG precious trader Andre Flotron that he ran a conspiracy to manipulate futures markets through a practice known as spoofing.

Prosecutors and defense lawyer Marc Mukasey presented competing images of the precious metals desk at UBS and Flotron’s relationship with other traders during closing arguments on Tuesday in New Haven, Connecticut, federal court. Flotron, the former head of the desk, is accused of scheming with underlings to cheat other participants in the market, namely high-frequency trading algorithms.

Deliberations began after five days of testimony. Flotron, a Swiss citizen, faces up to 25 years in prison if convicted.

As a manager, Flotron, 54, enabled a conspiracy of "immense proportions" that "crossed the globe," said prosecutor Robert Zink. "Spoofing was an open secret at UBS. It was criminal and everyone did it. No one is disputing that."

In a chat with one of the alleged conspirators, Flotron wrote "F algos," referencing algorithms, Zink said.

Mukasey said the government’s case was "prosecution by statistics" through charts and graphs and relied on testimony from two former traders who cooperated in exchange for non-prosecution agreements, and couldn’t be trusted.

"You can’t take their word for anything," Mukasey said, noting that neither cooperator told jurors they explicitly agreed to spoof with Flotron. The practice entailed placing and quickly canceling orders to shift prices up or down. "They’ve got a motive to tell the story the government wants."

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