The Commodity Futures Trading Commission won two major court victories yesterday in the regulation of London commodity option sales.
The Supreme Court let stand a lower federal court ruling which upheld the validity of the agency's requirement for the segregation of 90 per cent of the options' cost in an escrow account.
Commodity options dealers claim that the segregation rule would put them out of business, by forcing them to nearly match the volume of their sales in escrow deposits. A score of dealers and the National Association of Commodity Options Dealers challenged the rule.
The CFTC aimed the regulation at undercapitalized dealers, many of whom resorted to fraudulent or deceptive tactics to sell options.
In a separate ruling yesterday, a U.S. District Court judge in Michigan issued a temporary restraining order barring further fraudulent sales practices by Lloyd Carr & Co., a New England options firm. Lloyd Carr also participated in the Supreme Court suit.
A hearing on a preliminary injunction against the firm was set for Nov. 22, CFTC sources said.
The agency has brought two federal lawsuits and an administrative proceeding against Lloyd Carr in an 18-month-long fight to halt their sales.
In August, the commission refused to register the company as a futures commission merchant, the equivalent of a broker-dealer in the securities industry. That ruling, according to CFTC attorneys, should have put the company out of business. Instead, Lloyd Carr salesmen broadened their territory and began selling in Maryland last month.
CFTC Commissioner John V. Rainbolt II said yesterday that the two decisions "will pretty well do the job" in putting an end to deceptive and fraudulent options sales. "I think we may have turned a corner finally," he said.
A commodity option is a contract giving the right to buy or sell of commodity future or cash commodity at a fixed price at some date in the future.
The options being sold in the U.S. at present are traded on exchanges in London.
The CFTC tentatively has approved options trading on U.S. exchanges to begin next year, if a $1 million supplemental budget request is approved by Congress.