The Commodity Futures Trading Commission has been accused in two suits filed in U.S. District Court of violating the secrecy of a federal grand jury, the Chicago Sun-Times reported today.
The suits seek to determine whether the commission obtained evidence from a grand jury investigation of soybean futures trading by commodity brokers and used it in an administrative complaint filed against other brokers.
Federal law prohibits information collected by a grand jury from being used for any other purpose, including investigations by federal agencies.
In one suit, broker Sam H. LaMantia asked the court to determine if information compiled by the grand jury which indicted him was given to the commission for use in another investigation.
LaMantia and six other brokers were indicted June 17 in connection with alleged fraudulent trading practices in soybean futures.
In the second suit, broker Alan Freeman, a partner in Rosenthal & Co., seeks to determine whether the grand jury which indicted LaMantia provided the trading commission with information used in administrative proceeding against the Siegel Trading Co., and other brokers. Freeman was cited in the commission proceeding.
Commission officials, while refusing to talk about the pending suits, said the legal hearings would absolve the agency of any suspicion.
William R. Schief, director of the commission's enforcement division, denied the commission committed any improper acts with regard to the grand jury and called the accusations "bald allegations."
However, testimony included with each suit quoted one commission investigator as admitting that she violated her oath as an agent of a special grand jury by discussing the grand jury proceeding with Schief. A second investigator said he may have used grand jury information in preparing a case unrelated to the grand jury's work.
The Sun-Times said it has learned that one commission employe was working simultaneously for both the grand jury and an independent commission proceeding.