Kraft, Mondelz wheat price manipulation hurt traders-U.S. lawsuit

viernes 10 de abril de 2015 12:17 GYT

By Jonathan Stempel

April 10 (Reuters) - Kraft Foods Group Inc and Mondelz International Inc are being sued in a proposed class action on behalf of wheat futures and options traders for allegedly manipulating the grain's price.

The lawsuit was filed on Thursday by futures trader Richard Dennis in the federal court in Chicago, eight days after the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission sued both companies.

In that case, the CFTC alleged that the former Kraft Foods Inc in late 2011 bought $90 million of wheat futures despite never intending to take possession of the grain.

The regulator said it did this to depress prices in the cash wheat market, where sellers might believe the companies needed less wheat, and inflate futures prices. Kraft's strategy led to more than $5.4 million of illegal gains, the CFTC said.

In Thursday's complaint, Dennis raised similar claims, and accused Kraft and Mondelz of manipulating prices of cash wheat and wheat futures contracts on the Chicago Board of Trade from 2003 to January 2014, boosting revenue and trading profit.

"While these illicit profits benefited defendants' bottom line, they caused harm to class members who transacted in CBOT wheat futures contracts at artificial prices," Dennis said.

Kraft had no immediate comment. Mondelz spokeswoman Valérie Moens declined to comment. Both companies have indicated that Mondelz would bear most costs of the CFTC case, and that the outcome would not be material to either's results.

A lawyer for Dennis did not immediately respond to requests for additional comment.   Continuación...