A judge may overturn a bond trader's fraud conviction because 'big boys' in the market should expect 'puffery'

Jesse LitvakMike Segar/ReutersJesse Litvak.

Jesse Litvak, a Jefferies bond trader convicted of lying about mortgage-backed bonds in connection with the post-crisis Troubled Asset Relief Program may now get off the hook.

That’s because the appeals judge said a “certain amount of licence and puffery” is expected of traders, and it’s no worse than the embellishments of a car salesman, reports Bloomberg.

The judge also argued that Litvak was playing with the “big boys” who should have been able to take care if themselves in the market.

In March 2014, Litvak was convicted of fraud for lying to bond buyers and sellers, telling them that other parties were setting higher (or lower) prices on the other side of the trade.

He also made up a non-existent seller when negotiating with a buyer in order to charge a fake match-making commission, according to the U.S. attorney’s office.

“By misrepresenting the true terms of trades, Litvak manipulated victims’ prices and made trades less profitable for them, but more profitable for Jefferies,” prosecutor Jonathan N. Francis argued.

The defence agreed that Litvak had lied, saying it’s “undisputed” that he “made misstatements,” but said the specific things he lied about shouldn’t have had a material impact on any trading negotiations.

Also, defence attorneys said, there was publicly available data on all of this stuff, so traders shouldn’t have relied on Litvak’s word alone.

That’s fair, right?

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