For Release: August 21, 2009
U.S. District Court Orders Five Defendants in CFTC Action to Pay More than $4 million in Civil Penalties for Engaging in Illegal Foreign Currency Options Scheme
Court finds that customers were defrauded of more than $1.8 million
Washington, DC — The Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) today announced that it obtained more than $4 million in civil monetary penalties in orders entered by the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida against defendants in CFTC v. Sterling Trading Group, et al., a CFTC enforcement action filed in June, 2004. The CFTC alleged that the defendants committed fraud in connection with the offer of illegal foreign currency (forex) contracts to retail customers, who were defrauded of more than $1.8 million (see CFTC Press Release 4946-04, June 29, 2004).
Judge Kevin Michael Moore entered three separate consent orders of permanent injunction against defendants Graystone Brown Financial Inc. (Graystone) and STG Global Trading Inc. (STG); Andrew Stern and QIX, Inc. (QIX); and Joseph Arsenault.
The orders require defendants to pay a total of $4,185,000 in civil monetary penalties as follows: QIX, $2 million; Graystone, $1 million; STG, $500,000; Arsenault, $415,000; and Stern, $270,000. The orders also permanently bar QIX, Graystone and STG from engaging in any commodity-related activity. The orders also permanently bar Arsenault and Stern from engaging in any commodity trading on behalf of others on any exchange or soliciting or accepting any funds from others for any on-exchange commodity trading. The orders permanently ban all defendants from applying for registration, engaging in any activity requiring registration or acting as a principal, agent or any other officer or employee of any registered entity or person required to be registered.
The consent orders find that, from at least August, 2003, through at least June, 2004, Graystone and STG, through their account executives, fraudulently solicited retail customers to engage in off-exchange forex options transactions with QIX as the counterparty to each transaction. According to the orders, customers solicited by the Graystone and STG account executives lost at least $1,826,929.50 during the period, and virtually all Graystone and STG customers who opened accounts suffered trading losses. None of the defendants were registered with the CFTC during the relevant period.
The orders hold Stern liable as the controlling person of QIX for its illegal offer and sale of off-exchange forex options, hold Arsenault liable as the controlling person of Graystone and hold STG liable for the fraudulent conduct of those firms’ account executives. Finally, QIX is held derivatively liable as a principal for the fraudulent conduct of its agents, Graystone and STG.
The CFTC appreciates the assistance of the Florida State Office of Financial Regulation.
The following CFTC Division of Enforcement staff members are responsible for this case: Peter M. Haas, Eugene Smith, Kyong J. Koh, Christopher Giglio, Paul G. Hayeck and Joan Manley.
Last Updated: August 21, 2009