Australian trader’s US sentencing delayed over ‘spoofing’ charge after he agrees to help investigators

Australia

An Australian commodities trader has cut years from his US jail sentence for trying to manipulate markets by agreeing to work with investigators.

Zhao was facing 10 years prison but under a plea deal he is set to spend 12 months behind bars in the US.

“The defendant is co-operating with the government’s investigation and the government anticipates needing additional time to evaluate the defendant’s co- operation,” prosecutors told District Court Judge John Tharp Jr in a court filing.

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Zhao’s sentencing was scheduled for December 17 in Chicago but has been pencilled in for January 28.

Zhao admitted placing thousands of spoof orders for E-mini S&P 500 futures contracts on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange between 2012 and 2016 “in an effort to deceive other market participants and enrich himself”.

He would cancel the orders before they were executed, with his goal to induce other market participants to trade against his primary order, prosecutors said.

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Zhao, who was working for a Sydney trading firm, was charged by US prosecutors in January 2018.

Under the plea deal he entered a guilty plea to one charge of spoofing.

He was one of eight individuals charged by American law enforcement around the globe for alleged deceptive trading practices on US commodities markets.

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