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U.S. fines disbarred Canada lawyer $280,000 for ‘money pass’ scheme

A federal court in Illinois entered a default judgment Tuesday against John D. Briner, a disbarred Canadian attorney who used a U.S. commodity trading account in a so-called "money pass" to move nearly $400,000 to another person.

Briner lives in Abbotsford, British Columbia.

His law firm -- MetroWest Law Corporation -- was also named as a defendant. The Vancover-based firm is now under the custodianship of the Law Society of British Columbia.

The court imposed a civil penalty of $280,000 and permanent registration, trading, and solicitation bans on the defendants.

The court order resulted from a complaint against Briner and his law firm by the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission filed in April 2015.

Briner gave his co-defendant, Matthew J. Marcus, the password and login for a trading account Briner had opened in the name of his law firm.

Briner authorized Marcus to enter trades for the MetroWest account.

Over seven consecutive trading days in January and February 2014, Marcus operated a “money pass,” whereby he moved $390,000 from the MetroWest trading account to an account Marcus opened in the name of his company, Tech Power Inc.

Marcus made a series of 1,248 pre-arranged, non-competitive trades using single stock futures contracts on OneChicago LLC, an electronic futures exchange located in Chicago.

The court said that under the Commodity Exchange Act and CFTC regulations, Briner and MetroWest were "strictly liable as principals for the trading violations of their agent, Marcus."

Last month, the federal court entered a separate consent order against Marcus imposing a $250,000 civil penalty and five-year registration, trading, and solicitation ban.

The CFTC said it had help in the case from the British Columbia Securities Commission and from OneChicago LLC’s staff.


Richard L. Cassin is the publisher and editor of the FCPA Blog. He'll be the keynote speaker at the FCPA Blog NYC Conference 2016