Kevin Cassidy (the “Defendant”) is the former chief executive officer of a company called Optionable Inc. (“Optionable”), which was based in New York. Optionable was a commodities brokerage firm, which means that it brokered – or acted as the “middle man” – between traders who wanted to buy and sell commodities contracts. Commodities are goods like gold, coffee, natural gas and other forms of energy. Optionable focused on energy commodities, and received a commission for each transaction it brokered. Optionable often acted as a broker for a type of energy contract called an “option.” An option in the commodities market is a contract granting its owner the right to buy or sell a commodity at a certain price on a later date.

One of Optionable’s largest clients was the Bank of Montreal (“BMO”). BMO is a Canadian bank that has a division in New York which trades, among other things, natural gas options. BMO paid Optionable to act as “middle man” for these options. Until mid-2007, the head energy trader at BMO’s New York Office – that is, the person in charge of deciding which natural gas options to buy or sell – was a man named David Lee. As part of his job, David Lee was required to provide daily valuations for every investment he was making for BMO, including the options in his natural gas portfolio. At least once a month, a separate department at BMO conducted an independent verification of the valuations Lee provided. For part of this independent verification, BMO claims it relied on pricing data provided to it by Optionable.

The Government has charged the defendant, Mr. Cassidy with three things arising out of Optionable’s relationship with BMO. David Lee is not a defendant in this case. First, the Government has charged Mr. Cassidy with conspiring with David Lee to subvert BMO’s independent verification of Lee’s valuations. Under the Government’s theory, Lee and Mr. Cassidy agreed that Lee would send Mr. Cassidy pricing data for natural gas options, and that Mr. Cassidy’s company, Optionable, would then send this data back to BMO, without telling BMO that the data originated with its employee, David Lee.

Second, as the Chief Executive Officer of Optionable, Mr. Cassidy was responsible for signing each of Optionable’s public filings submitted to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (the “S.E.C.”). The S.E.C. is the government regulatory agency whose job it is to regulate the securities industry, which includes commodities traders and brokers. The Government asserts that Optionable should have revealed in those public filings that Mr. Cassidy was conspiring with David Lee to defraud BMO. So the Government has also charged Mr. Cassidy for having failed to disclose his alleged conspiracy with Mr. Lee in the reports Optionable filed with the S.E.C.

And third, the Government alleges that Mr. Cassidy failed to reveal the alleged conspiracy with David Lee in negotiations with a company called NYMEX, when NYMEX purchased an ownership interest in Optionable.

Have any of you here heard about this case or know anything about it based on this short description? If so, please raise your hand now.

This trial is about to begin because Mr. Cassidy denies that he committed any crimes. Mr. Cassidy has pleaded not guilty to the charges against him and has asked for a trial by jury. He is presumed to be innocent of all these charges until and unless the government proves the charges beyond a reasonable doubt.