The complaint alleges CBOE participated with others to manipulate the VIX “fear gauge” in a systematic manner during the 2004 to 2018 timeframe. This alleged improper manipulation caused economic damages to investors who traded in VIX futures, options and certain other VIX derivatives. As a consequence of these activities, the complaint alleges that CBOE and a few of its preferred traders violated the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, the Commodity Exchange Act and the Sherman Act.
CBOE runs the exclusive exchange for core VIX financial instruments in the United States and is not permitted to run the VIX market in a “rigged” manner, as the complaint alleges. The complaint alleges that in February 2018, a whistleblower, who reportedly had held senior positions at some of the largest investment firms in the world, disclosed widespread manipulation of the VIX. After these disclosures were made public, one former regulatory official responded that the whistleblower’s claim “rings true.” Another former regulatory official reportedly explained it was “quite clear” that the VIX can be manipulated and that CBOE “should have sprung in to action” to bring any manipulation to a halt. The complaint’s forensic quantitative analysis corroborates the whistleblower’s claim. It also corroborates academic work that was published in a prestigious, peer-reviewed academic journal in May 2017, raising questions about whether the VIX was being manipulated and suggesting various means of demonstrating that it was, in fact, manipulated.
As alleged in the complaint, plaintiff’s recently completed forensic analyses confirm that the VIX was manipulated during the Class Period. The analyses also show, however, that the VIX manipulation abated to some degree in the immediate aftermath of the May 2017 peer-reviewed academic article mentioned above. The complaint alleges these May 2017 changes in the trading patterns underlying the VIX market tend to show defendants’ culpable state of mind because, in essence, they changed their trading behavior when faced with the risk of being discovered. These and other facts set forth in the complaint support the allegations that CBOE and its preferred traders were “banging the VIX close” in a systematic manner, throughout the Class Period. CBOE allegedly conferred financial benefits and special trading privileges to a few traders who, in exchange for driving higher trading volume (and fees) for CBOE, enjoyed special privileges that allowed them to game the VIX and manipulate VIX derivative prices to the detriment of the Class. CBOE, in turn, benefitted financially from the manipulation as VIX products were its “flagship” products, which generated much of CBOE’s revenues, as the complaint alleges.
Plaintiff seeks to recover damages on behalf of all investors who lost money trading VIX Options, VIX Futures and other VIX derivatives during the Class Period (the “Class”). The plaintiff is represented by counsel that has extensive experience defending investors’ financial interests and recovering their investment capital where, as the complaint alleges in this case, their losses do not stem from normal market forces but from market misconduct.