Indian ‘Wolf of Wall Street’ Arrested in UK for 2010 ‘Flash Crash’

Navinder Sarao faces extradition to US after allegedly ‘spoofing’ global financial markets by placing false trades.

2 min read
A trader walks on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange during the 20-minute ‘flash crash’ in 2010. (Photo: Reuters)

An Indian-origin futures trader has been arrested in the UK and faces extradition to the US for his alleged role in the May 2010 ‘flash crash’ which wiped billions of dollars off the value of US shares in minutes.

Navinder Singh Sarao, 37, was arrested by British authorities on April 21 at the request of the US Department of Justice. The US is also requesting his extradition. Sarao was charged in a federal criminal complaint in the Northern District of Illinois in February 2015.

Charges Against Him

The complaint charges him with one count of wire fraud, 10 counts of commodities fraud and commodities manipulation and one count of ‘spoofing’, a practice of bidding or offering with the intent to cancel the bid or offer before execution.

The US Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) also announced the unsealing of a parallel civil enforcement action against Sarao and his firm Nav Sarao Futures Limited.

The CFTC complaint charges him with unlawfully manipulating, attempting to manipulate, and ‘spoofing’ with regard to the E-mini S&P 500 near month futures contract.

What is the E-mini S&P 500?

The E-mini S&P 500 is a stock market index futures contract based on the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index and is one of the most popular and liquid equity index futures contracts in the world.

The contract is traded only at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME). According to allegations in the criminal complaint, Sarao allegedly used an automated trading programme to manipulate the market for E-Mini S&P 500 futures contracts on the CME.

Profit Generated

From April 2010 to present, he and his firm have profited over USD 40 million in total from the E-mini S&P trading. Sarao’s alleged manipulation contributed to a major drop in the US stock market on May 6, 2010, that came to be known as the ‘Flash Crash’.

On that date, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell by approximately 600 points in a five-minute span, following a drop in the price of E-Minis.

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