DOJ pushes for detention of UK trader accused of spoofing

Maria Nikolova

The US Government argues that James Vorley presents a clear and extraordinary risk of flight and failure to appear.

The criminal case targeting James Vorley, a precious metals trader accused of spoofing by the US authorities, continues at the Illinois Northern District Court.

On Wednesday, August 29, 2018, the Department of Justice (DOJ) filed a Motion for the detention of the defendant, arguing that his proposal for bail should be rejected. According to the DOJ, the defendant presents a clear risk of flight and failure to appear, and there is no condition that, at present, can reasonably assure his appearance.

The US Government describes James Vorley as “a sophisticated international trader with wealth and connections, who is alleged to have defrauded other traders for years as part of his scheme to lie, cheat, and manipulate others to enrich himself”.

According to the US authorities, the defendant has significant incentive and ability to flee from this case in the United States and not appear for trial. He is a UK citizen with no ties to the United States, substantial family ties abroad, access to substantial resources, a foreign passport, and the ability to easily travel and remain in countries from which he cannot reliably be extradited. Let’s note that Vorley faces prosecution for serious offenses that carry a statutory maximum term of imprisonment of 30 years, a mandatory period of imprisonment, and a likely sentencing range under the United States Sentencing Guidelines of nearly half a decade.

The defendant has suggested that a combination of cash bail and foreign assets will reasonably assure his return appearance. Vorley proposes that the Court accept $100,000 cash bail, along with a $500,000 personal recognize bond (“PRB”).

Although Vorley suggests that the Court accept two foreign assets as collateral – his house and his father’s house, both of which are located abroad and outside the Court’s jurisdiction – he does not provide a meaningful, step-by-step, detailed explanation of:

  1. the mechanisms involved in ensuring that a lien is placed on the foreign assets, and describing what authority the Court has to ensure that such mechanisms will be enforced; and

  2. the practical means of who will monetize the interests in the foreign assets if the defendant violates a condition of pretrial release, and how long that process will take.

Furthermore, according to the Government, the defendant’s current cash proposal is far too minimal to have any significant impact on whether Vorley—who purports to have a net worth of at least approximately $3 million—will ever return to this jurisdiction.

Also, under his current proposal, Vorley seeks to return to the United Kingdom during the pendency of his case. Quite conversely, US citizens who commit crimes in the United States but are released pending trial are frequently subjected to significant pretrial bond condition combinations, such as the surrender of a United States passport and an order not to travel outside the local jurisdiction. The Government argues that if the Court adopts the defendant’s proposed bail package, it would result in this defendant, a foreign national, enjoying a better pretrial situation than a United States citizen who was charged with a crime in this country, simply because this defendant engaged in his alleged criminal conduct from abroad.

The defendant must therefore be detained, the US Government insists.

Let’s recall that, in January this year, James Vorley, of the United Kingdom, and Cedric Chanu, a French citizen, were charged in a criminal complaint with conspiracy, wire fraud, commodities fraud, and spoofing offenses in connection with executing a scheme to defraud involving both solo and coordinated spoofing on the COMEX while they were employed as precious metals traders at a leading global financial institution. Vorley was based in London, United Kingdom and Chanu was based in London, and the Republic of Singapore.

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