Editor’s note: John Lothian News received the following letter from Vivek Sharma, a former employee of Edge Financial, the firm owned by Jitesh Thakkar. Sharma has also worked for the National Futures Association as a quantitative analyst in their market regulation department.
Having been Mr. Thakkar’s employee from 2014 to 2015, I can vouch for his high moral character and impeccable grit.
Mr. Thakkar, a Chicago based software developer, is facing a civil lawsuit on charges of aiding and abetting a trader in spoofing (a market manipulation activity). The reason offered is that a rogue trader from London used a software created by Mr. Thakkar’s company to do the spoofing. This trader was later extradited to the US and has confessed to his crime.
Mr. Thakkar is the victim of the vicissitudes of the plea bargain system, that creates weird incentives and gives asymmetric power to the prosecution. While it is illegal for the defense to offer money to its witnesses in return for a favorable testimony, the prosecution is, however, free to offer something priceless, the prospect of liberty, to a desperate convict in return for an incriminating testimony against the defendant. That, in itself creates an imbalance of power in the adversarial system of justice. Add to that, an overzealous bureaucracy with the taxpayer’s money to waste, and you have the recipe for tyranny of the State.
What makes this matter ridiculous is, that the convicted trader in his sworn testimony said that he purposely avoided the word ‘spoofing’ in his communications with Mr. Thakkar fearing that any mention thereof would deter Mr. Thakkar from taking up the assignment. In other words, the prosecution’s own witness clearly says that Mr. Thakkar did not know that his software would be used for spoofing. Yet, the CFTC in its great wisdom has deemed Mr. Thakkar an accomplice. This is akin to charging the CEO of Ford with aiding and abetting traffic law violation whenever somebody exceeds the speed limit using a Ford vehicle. The point is, as long as a single lawful use of Mr. Thakkar’s software can exist (even in theory), he cannot be charged with spoofing. It should therefore be the prosecution’s burden to prove that Mr. Thakkar’s software could not be used for anything but spoofing.
It is noteworthy, that earlier this year, these very same charges were brought against Mr. Thakkar in a criminal trial and fell flat against a minimal defense. The fact that the prosecution couldn’t prove a single charge in the criminal trial, but is still adamant on the same charges in a civil lawsuit, reeks of vindictiveness. While I have full faith in the judiciary and am confident that Mr. Thakkar will eventually win this case also, I also fear that the sheer mental agony, financial burden of the trial and loss of reputation, that come with this ordeal, will cause irreparable damage to Mr. Thakkar and will shatter his spirits. And, in my opinion, it is this harassment that the prosecutors are relying on to force Mr. Thakkar into submission, rather than the merits of the case itself.
This quintessential specimen of tyranny of men in authority has sent a chilling effect on the financial industry at large. Free markets, of which, the derivatives industry is an integral part, are the distinguishing feature that puts America at the economic forefront. And, rule of law, that offers safeguards against a tyrannical State, puts America at the moral forefront. Both of these are at stake in this case.
It would therefore be an opportune moment for our elected representatives to intervene and repose our faith in the sanctity of the system again. I urge the Senators to do whatever is in their power to get these charges against Mr. Thakkar dropped. =