City A.M. Reporter
JPMorgan Chase & Co and HSBC Holdings were hit with two lawsuits yesterday by investors who accused them of conspiring to drive down silver prices, and reaping an estimated hundreds of millions of dollars of illegal profits.
The banks, among the world’s largest, were accused of manipulating the market for COMEX silver futures and options contracts from the first half of 2008 by amassing huge short positions in silver futures contracts that are designed to profit when prices fall.
“Defendants reaped hundreds of millions of dollars, if not billions of dollars in profits” from the conspiracy, one of the complaints said.
The respective plaintiffs, Brian Beatty and Peter Laskaris, each said they traded COMEX silver futures and options and contracts, and lost money because of the alleged manipulation. The lawsuits seek class-action status, damages that may be tripled and other remedies. The defendant banks are major participants in the silver market.
JPMorgan declined to comment. An HSBC spokeswoman had no immediate comment. The lawsuits were filed one day after the Commodity Futures Trading Commission proposed regulations to give it greater power to thwart traders who try to manipulate prices.