NY attorney general sues Barclays, alleges deceit

Associated Press |

NEW YORK (AP) — British banking and financial services firm Barclays PLC misled large institutional investors and other clients by falsely telling them it was taking measures to protect them from predatory high-frequency traders, New York's attorney general said Wednesday.

The allegations against Barclays were contained in a securities fraud lawsuit that Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced at a Manhattan news conference.

The complaint, filed in state Supreme Court, portrays "a flagrant pattern of fraud, deception and dishonesty with Barclays clients and the investing public," the attorney general said.

In a statement, Barclays spokesman Mark Lane said the bank was cooperating with the attorney general.

"We take these allegations very seriously. ... The integrity of the the market is a top priority at Barclays," Lane said.

The lawsuit alleges Barclays, which has headquarters in London, deceived investors about its dark pool, an electronic trading operation intended to shield them from the high-frequency traders who use sophisticated computer programs to get early access to pending orders and other market-moving information. The bank promoted a service it claimed was a "surveillance" system that would identify and hold accountable "toxic," ''predatory" and "aggressive" traders, the lawsuit says.

Instead, the service "was essentially a sham," Schneiderman said. "Barclays has never prohibited any trader from participating in its dark pool, regardless of how predatory or aggressive its behavior was determined to be."

Information from former high-level insiders at Barclays and email evidence show that Barclays was determined to raise profits by making its dark pool, referred to internally as The Franchise, the largest on Wall Street, New York authorities said.

To help reach that goal, the firm "disclosed detailed, sensitive information to major high frequency trading firms in order to encourage those firms to increase their activity in Barclays dark pool," the complaint says.

The lawsuit also accuses the bank of misleading investors by telling them that it would spread orders around to various trading exchanges based on performance. In reality, it says, the bank was routing the vast majority of trades, 75 percent, to its dark pool.

The complaint says a Barclays executive was instructed to doctor a presentation to an institutional investor by lowering the figure to 35 percent. The change was made over the executive's protests, and he later resigned, it says.

The lawsuit asks the court to order Barclays to halt the behavior and pay unspecified damages.

DISCLOSURE: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors, and do not represent the views of equities.com. Readers should not consider statements made by the author as formal recommendations and should consult their financial advisor before making any investment decisions. To read our full disclosure, please go to: http://www.equities.com/disclaimer

Companies

Symbol Name Price Change % Volume
WTWO WTWO n/a n/a n/a 0

Comments

Emerging Growth

Taranis Resources Inc.

Taranis Resources Inc is an exploration stage company. The Company along with its subsidiaries is engaged in the acquisition and exploration of mineral properties. Its projects include Thor Property in…

Private Markets

Pinterest

Pinterest is a visual discovery and planning tool. Users ("Pinners") use the site and apps to get ideas for their future, such as recipes, places to travel, and products to…

GoCoin

Blockchain currencies (e.g. Bitcoin) provide a new disruptive way to transfer value between parties over the internet as opposed to going through banks. GoCoin provides online merchants with a suite…