Profile: Chicago Board Options Exchange
Chicago Board Options Exchange was a participant or observer in the following events:
Insider trading based on advanced knowledge of the 9/11 attacks may have begun on this date, if not earlier. Investigators later discover a large number of put option purchases (a speculation that the stock will go down) that expire on September 30 at the Chicago Board Options Exchange are bought on this date. If exercised, these options would have led to large profits. One analyst later says, “From what I’m hearing, it’s more than coincidence.”
A. B. “Buzzy” Krongard. [Source: Public domain]Suspicious trading occurs on the stock of American and United, the two airlines hijacked in the 9/11 attacks. “Between 6 and 7 September, the Chicago Board Options Exchange [sees] purchases of 4,744 put option contracts [a speculation that the stock will go down] in UAL versus 396 call options—where a speculator bets on a price rising. Holders of the put options would [net] a profit of $5 million once the carrier’s share price [dive] after September 11. On September 10, 4,516 put options in American Airlines, the other airline involved in the hijackings, [are] purchased in Chicago. This compares with a mere 748 call options in American purchased that day. Investigators cannot help but notice that no other airlines [see] such trading in their put options.” One analyst later says, “I saw put-call numbers higher than I’ve ever seen in ten years of following the markets, particularly the options markets.”
[Associated Press, 9/18/2001; San Francisco Chronicle, 9/19/2001]
“To the embarrassment of investigators, it has also [learned] that the firm used to buy many of the ‘put’ options… on United Airlines stock was headed until 1998 by ‘Buzzy’ Krongard, now executive director of the CIA.” Krongard was chairman of Alex Brown Inc., which was bought by Deutsche Bank. “His last post before resigning to take his senior role in the CIA was to head Bankers Trust—Alex Brown’s private client business, dealing with the accounts and investments of wealthy customers around the world.”
The Chicago Board Options Exchange sees suspicious trading on Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley, two of the largest WTC tenants. In the first week of September, an average of 27 put option contracts in its shares are bought each day. Then the total for the three days before the attacks is 2,157. Merrill Lynch, another WTC tenant, see 12,215 put options bought between September 7-10, when the previous days had seen averages of 252 contracts a day. [Independent, 10/14/2001] Dylan Ratigan of Bloomberg Business News, speaking of the trading on Morgan Stanley and other companies, says, “This would be one of the most extraordinary coincidences in the history of mankind if it was a coincidence.”
[ABC News, 9/20/2001]
Slate reports that two years after the 9/11 attacks, neither the Chicago Board Options Exchange nor the Securities and Exchange Commission will make any comment about their investigations into insider trading before 9/11. “Neither has announced any conclusion. The SEC has not filed any complaint alleging illegal activity, nor has the Justice Department announced any investigation or prosecution.… So, unless the SEC decides to file a complaint—unlikely at this late stage—we may never know what they learned about terror trading.”
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