(Bloomberg) - The former head of the JPMorgan Chase & Co. precious-metals business and his top gold trader were convicted in Chicago on charges they manipulated markets for years, handing the US government a win in its long crackdown on bogus “spoofing” orders.
Michael Nowak and Gregg Smith were found guilty Wednesday by a federal jury after a three-week trial and more than eight days of deliberations. Prosecutors presented evidence that included detailed trading records, chat logs and testimony by former co-workers who “pulled back the curtain” on how Nowak and Smith moved precious-metals prices up and down for profit from 2008 to 2016.
A third defendant, Jeffrey Ruffo, who was a salesman on the bank’s precious-metals desk, was acquitted of charges he participated in the conspiracy.
The case was the biggest yet in a crackdown by the US Justice Department. Nowak, the managing director in charge of the desk, and Smith, its top trader, were convicted of fraud, spoofing, market manipulation. The government alleged the precious-metals business at JPMorgan was run as a criminal enterprise, though the jury acquitted all three men of a separate racketeering charge.
“They had the power to move the market, the power to manipulate the worldwide price of gold,” prosecutor Avi Perry said during closing arguments.
US District Court Judge Edmond Chang said Nowak and Smith will be sentenced next year. Each faces decades in prison, though it may be far less. Two Deutsche Bank AG traders convicted of spoofing in 2020 were each sentenced to a year in prison.