‘Don’t tell anyone’: Whatsapp messages exposed £400m ‘Essex boys’ traders to US lawsuit￼
A group of traders dubbed ‘the Essex boys’, who made more than £400m profit in a day of frenzied oil trading in 2020, exposed themselves to a US lawsuit due to a Whatsapp exchange, it has been revealed.
The 12 men, based near Epping Forest in Essex, made monstrous returns selling oil futures when prices plunged below zero on 20th April 2020, as the pandemic gripped the world and caused demand for oil to disappear.
But US firm Mish International Monetary alleged the men colluded to push down prices amid the selling frenzy, launching a case against the group and their parent company Vega Capital.
In court documents released on Tuesday, it was revealed that a case against the traders was given the green light due to Whatsapp messages between the men, urging each other to keep shtum.
“Please don’t tell anyone what happened today lads x”, read one of the messages on a group called ‘Legends XXX’, seen by Bloomberg.
Another said the group had “pushed each other so hard for years for this one moment” and f****** blitzed it”.
As the prices plummeted, the traders were found to have sent messages pushing each other to “just keep selling it every 5 points”.
A judge said the court case could proceed against the eight of the 12 men due to the messages suggesting they had coordinated their actions.
“The content of their communications, along with the high degree of correlative trading among most of them, give rise to a highly plausible inference of an agreement among them,” said U.S. District Judge Gary Feinerman.
Data showed that the group’s transactions were highly correlated, according to the law suit, with between 96.2 per cent and 99.7 per cent being executed at the exact same time.
The group argue they simply capitalised on “blaring” market signals, but the case will now proceed against eight of the 12 involved.