MF Global Told to Pay U.K. Trader About $30 Million

Discussion in 'Wall St. News' started by Tom B, May 6, 2009.

  1. Tom B

    Tom B

    MF Global Told to Pay U.K. Trader About $30 Million

    By James Lumley

    May 6 (Bloomberg) -- MF Global Ltd.’s London brokerage unit must pay a day trader about 20 million pounds ($30 million) in compensation for deceiving him about the amount of his trading losses, a London judge ruled today.

    Misrepresentations made by an MF Global account manager to former client Raj Gill led him to follow a flawed trading strategy that caused mistakes worth millions of pounds, Justice Julian Flaux ruled.

    “Had it not been for Mr. Gill being ensnared in the web of deceit” he would have made money from his trades, Flaux said in his ruling. Gill’s company “is entitled to recover all its losses which flow directly from that fraud.”

    MF Global has more than tripled this year after Chief Executive Officer Bernard Dan paid down debt and bought back convertible notes. Dan said in a memo to staff that most of today’s award will be covered by insurance.

    Gill had sought at least 9.3 million pounds over claims that in 2001 and 2002 an MF Global account manager, who has since left the firm, told him he was making trading gains when he was losing money. Gill claimed he would have changed his strategy if correct information had been provided. Instead, he wiped out a trading account with almost 10 million pounds.

    Eight Years Ago

    Diana DeSocio, a spokeswoman for Hamilton, Bermuda-based MF Global, said the company had a “strong case for appeal,” as the damages awarded were disproportionate to Gill’s losses.

    “It happened more than eight years ago,” DeSocio said in a telephone interview. “We are now a different company under a different management structure.”

    “Claimants can hold the company to account and not just the trader who lied,” Tony Woodcock, a fraud lawyer at Stephenson Harwood in London said in a telephone interview. “Although insurance will pick up the tab, this shows MF in a very poor light, and they will have to work out a way to repair the damage.”

    Gill said in a statement he’s “hugely relieved” the case is over. MF’s “continued protection of a liar for over seven years is indefensible, deplorable and deeply unethical.”

    Dan told staff about the court’s decision in the memo and reminded them of the firm’s ethics policies.

    ‘Serious Reminder’

    The case “represents something more than money -- it is the antithesis of the principles and policies that define our company,” Dan said in the memo, which was sent by the company to Bloomberg News. “The verdict serves as a serious reminder that we have zero tolerance for any conduct that is not in the best interests of our clients.”

    Flaux worked out a schedule of profits that Gill might have made and said he would leave it to the two sides to agree the exact amount. The final figure, between 19 million and 20 million pounds, will be calculated at a later hearing.

    Flaux also said he may have to refer the case to U.K. prosecutors.

    MF on March 24 accepted allegations of fraudulent misrepresentation while denying liability. MF Global lawyer Michael Brindle told the court that while his client admitted that the account manager misled Gill, the misinformation didn’t cause him to err.

    The case is: Parabola Investments Ltd. v Browallia Cal Ltd., No. 2006-855.

    To contact the reporter on this story: James Lumley in London at