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N.J.-Based Brokerage Firm Charged With Manipulative Trading

New York (HedgeCo.Net) – The SEC has charged the owner of a Holmdel, N.J.-based brokerage firm with manipulative trading of publicly traded stocks through an illegal practice known as “layering” or “spoofing.” The SEC also charged the owner and others for registration violations. Two firms and five individuals agreed to pay a combined total of nearly $3 million to settle the case.

According to the SEC, the misconduct occurred from May 2008 to November 2011. Visionary Trading and its four owners –  Joseph Dondero, Eugene Giaquinto, Lee Heiss, and Jason Medvin – illegally received from Lightspeed a share of the commissions generated from trading by Visionary customers.  Lightspeed aided and abetted the violation by ignoring red flags that Visionary and its owners were receiving transaction-based compensation while Visionary and its owners were not registered as a broker or dealer or associated with a registered broker-dealer firm.

In layering, the trader places orders with no intention of having them executed but rather to trick others into buying or selling a stock at an artificial price driven by the orders that the trader later cancels. An SEC investigation found that Joseph Dondero, a co-owner of Visionary Trading LLC, repeatedly used this strategy to induce other market participants to trade in a particular stock. By placing and then canceling layers of orders, Dondero created fluctuations in the national best bid or offer of a stock, increased order book depth, and used the non-bona fide orders to send false signals to other market participants who misinterpreted the layering as true demand for the stock.

“The fair and efficient functioning of the markets requires that prices of securities reflect genuine supply and demand,” said Sanjay Wadhwa, senior associate director of the SEC’s New York Regional Office. “Traders who pervert these natural forces by engaging in layering or some other form of manipulative trading invite close scrutiny from the SEC.”

“The fair and efficient functioning of the markets requires that prices of securities reflect genuine supply and demand,” said Sanjay Wadhwa, senior associate director of the SEC’s New York Regional Office.  “Traders who pervert these natural forces by engaging in layering or some other form of manipulative trading invite close scrutiny from the SEC.”

Alex Akesson
Editor for HedgeCo.net
alex@hedgeco.net
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