Justia Daily Opinion Summaries

White Collar Crime
October 27, 2023

Table of Contents

United States v. Bases

Banking, Criminal Law, Securities Law, White Collar Crime

US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit

People v. Shah

Criminal Law, Real Estate & Property Law, White Collar Crime

California Courts of Appeal

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White Collar Crime Opinions

United States v. Bases

Court: US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit

Dockets: 23-1530, 23-1530

Opinion Date: October 23, 2023

Judge: Brennan

Areas of Law: Banking, Criminal Law, Securities Law, White Collar Crime

Pacilio and Bases were senior traders on the precious metals trading desk at Bank of America. While working together in 2010-2011, and at times separately before and after that period, they engaged in “spoofing” to manipulate the prices of precious metals using an electronic trading platform, that allows traders to place buy or sell orders on certain numbers of futures contracts at a set price. It is assumed that every order is bona fide and placed with “intent to transact.” Spoofing consists of placing a (typically) large order, on one side of the market with intent to trade, and placing a spoof order, fully visible but not intended to be traded, on the other side. The spoof order pushes the market price to benefit the other order, allowing the trader to get the desired price. The spoof order is canceled before it can be filled.

Pacilio and Bases challenged the constitutionality of their convictions for wire fraud affecting a financial institution and related charges, the sufficiency of the evidence, and evidentiary rulings relating to testimony about the Exchange’s and bank prohibitions on spoofing to support the government’s implied misrepresentation theory. The Seventh Circuit affirmed. The defendants had sufficient notice that their spoofing scheme was prohibited by law.

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People v. Shah

Court: California Courts of Appeal

Docket: A162676(First Appellate District)

Opinion Date: October 24, 2023

Judge: Markman

Areas of Law: Criminal Law, Real Estate & Property Law, White Collar Crime

In 2008-2010, Shah engaged in fraudulent transactions involving three luxury condominiums owned by Hwang, ultimately using the property to obtain over $2 million in loans. Shah was convicted of multiple crimes. Enhancement allegations, including taking a property valued over $3.2 million and special findings, including a pattern of white-collar crime. were found true. A 2015 restitution order remains unpaid. Hwang filed a civil action against Shah and, in 2018, secured a civil judgment—over $3.8 million.

In 2021, the trial court levied property under Penal Code 186.11, the “Freeze and Seize” law, which is intended to prevent a defendant from disposing of assets pending trial, and then use the assets to pay restitution after conviction. Shah argued that a trial court must seize any properties under section 186.11 no later than the sentencing hearing.

The court of appeal affirmed. Shah sought to import time limitations into the statute and ignored the legislative purpose of section 186.11 and California’s over-arching statutory framework for restitution in criminal cases. California recognizes restitution for crime victims as a constitutional right. The court’s authority does not change even after the Courts of Appeal decide a criminal case. The lack of a disposition formally remanding Shah’s original appeal for further proceedings was no bar to the trial court’s levying order.

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