As it becomes harder and harder for people to secure their financial futures, they often turn to various types of investments as a way to ensure they will have an income for many years to come. This is especially true when it comes to commodities, where traders as well as banks and brokers can find themselves under investigation for commodities fraud. While investors always trust their brokers or banks to provide them with accurate and reliable information, the truth is some of these financial firms and advisers choose instead to make more money for themselves at the expense of unsuspecting investors and clients. If you find yourself being charged with commodities fraud, you will need the services of an attorney who has the skills and experience needed to help you obtain the best possible results.
Defining Commodities Fraud
According to the FBI, commodities fraud is defined as the sale or purported sale of commodities through illegal means. A white-collar crime that is taken very seriously by the courts, it can involve a number of serious penalties and lead to decade after decade spent in prison. However, even if you have been charged with commodities fraud, all is not lost. While federal authorities may lead defendants to believe a conviction is a foregone conclusion, it is anything but that. A smart and knowledgeable commodities fraud lawyer will know this, and employ a number of aspects in their defense strategy to help their client get acquitted of all charges.
A Complex and Challenging Case
If there is one thing that will always play in the favor of a defendant charged with commodities fraud, it’s the fact that these cases are some of the most complex a court will ever hear. Since most judges and juries have little if any knowledge of financial markets, prosecutors often have a difficult time conveying the specifics of the case in an easy-to-understand manner. Since many transactions have often taken place in these cases, prosecutors may not be able to make it clear what the trader’s intent was when carrying out their duties. Because of the complexities involved in these cases, commodities fraud lawyers can often poke one hole after another in a prosecutor’s case and place large amounts of doubt in the minds of a judge and jury. To ensure this happens in your case, contact a lawyer who has the skills and abilities needed to sway the court in your favor.
Commodities Fraud Penalties
As with many other white-collar crimes, the penalties associated with commodities fraud can be unforgiving. Prison sentences can range from 10 years up to 25 years or even more, and fines can be well in excess of $1 million. And to make matters worse, defendants in these cases may also face other charges as well including mail fraud, wire fraud, and embezzlement. When facing these charges, it’s extremely important to work with a lawyer who has a track record of success in these cases. Otherwise, you may find yourself facing serious consequences for crimes you did not commit, yet having little if any recourse other than to accept the court’s verdict. But by making sure you have the expertise of a lawyer who is committed to fighting for your rights, your chances of walking away with an acquittal increase substantially.
Get the Legal Help You Need
If you are charged with commodities fraud, there is little doubt you will be facing numerous criminal and civil consequences. Under these circumstances, you will need the service driven lawyer you can find to take your case. Whether your lawyer will be working with you to plan a defense strategy, negotiate a plea deal, or resolve the case in a manner that will benefit all parties, it’s important to remember that the complexities of these cases will almost always work in your favor. If you are facing a multi-count indictment, your lawyer will use this to plan a defense strategy that is aimed at putting doubt and confusion in the minds of those deciding your fate. Instead of feeling as if a conviction is inevitable, take advantage of a free consultation with an experienced lawyer and get the legal help you need to win your case.
Commodity trading has a long history in United States financial markets. From the earliest days of the republic, commodities ranging from wheat to pork bellies have been sold through small, informal markets. By the end of the 19th century, commodities trading had become a much larger business, institutionalized through markets like the Chicago Board of Trade.
Commodities trading can frequently be divided into two lines of activity: spot sales, entitling the owner to immediate delivery of the commodity in question, and futures contracts, entitling the owner to take delivery of a commodity at a specified date.
While commodity trading has existed in the Untied States for centuries, the regulatory approach to the practice has changed considerably over time. In 1936, Congress and President Franklin Roosevelt established the Commodity Exchange Authority to address what was perceived as rampant fraud and abuse in the commodities markets.
In 1974, Congress and President Gerald Ford replaced that agency with the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, tasking the replacement entity to serve as the lead regulator of commodities markets. In 2010, Congress and President Barack Obama further extended the powers of the CFTC through the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act.
Commodities trading is frequently done on the basis of individual accounts, which refers to the money that an individual or entity puts forward to place trades in the commodities or commodities futures markets. However, a recent financial innovation has been increased trading in the form of commodities pools. Regulation of this form of investment has been strict, primarily because the government is intent upon protecting the assets of people who may be ill-prepared to invest and speculate on the commodity futures markets.
A commodity pool refers to a group of investors who combine their money together to invest in commodities or commodity futures. This form of commodities trading is perfectly legal when it follows the regulations that are promulgated by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. In recent years, however, the federal government has investigated and aggressively prosecuted multiple cases of fraud in the formulation and execution of commodity pools.
Commodity pool fraud can occur in a number of ways, although three types are the most common. In the majority of cases, investors in a commodity pool are defrauded through misrepresentation. This means that the commodity pool is marketed through a misleading prospectus or other false or materially misleading statements by the organizer. For instance – in a classic case of commodity pool fraud – an organizer may promise a low rate of risk or a high rate of return while knowing that such claims are false.
Another example of commodity pool fraud is the misappropriation of commodity pool funds. In these cases, the organizer of a commodity pool deposits money intended for investment in commodities into unrelated – and typically personal – accounts. Because such misappropriation typically causes losses for investors, it is another serious federal offense.
Finally, failing to follow the CFTC’s regulations regarding registration – which must occur after a certain number of investors join or a certain amount of money is invested in a pool – is a federal offense.
Penalties for commodity pool fraud charges are often severe. Under federal law, the CFTC is empowered to bring civil actions to recover money from commodity pools. In some cases, pool organizers and managers have been responsible for millions of dollars in restitution payments.
Worse, the criminal penalties for commodity pool fraud are harsh. If found guilty of a single county of commodity pool fraud, an individual can face up to 10 years imprisonment per count. Since many indictments include multiple counts, such a sentence can quickly become an effective sentence of life imprisonment.
If you, your associates, or a loved one are being investigated or have been charged with commodity pool fraud, it is imperative that you contact an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately to safeguard your legal rights.
A competent, qualified defense lawyer can ensure that your legal rights are protected during the course of the investigation. If you are criminally charged in a commodity pool fraud matter, a criminal defense attorney can work with prosecutors to reach a favorable plea agreement or – if necessary – present a strong defense before a judge and jury.
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