CFTC Produces Unreleased Information on Kraft–Mondelēz Settlement, Resolving Kobre & Kim’s FOIA Suit
October 5, 2022
The Commodity Futures Trading Commission has agreed to produce previously unseen documents and communications related to an unprecedented 2019 “gag” order with Kraft and Mondelēz, under the terms of a settlement. The settlement ends a long-running Freedom of Information Act lawsuit by global disputes and investigations law firm Kobre & Kim.
Kobre & Kim filed the FOIA suit in 2019 seeking information around the CFTC’s $16 million settlement with Kraft and Mondelēz over allegations of wheat futures manipulation. The settlement has been shrouded in secrecy. There is no public record clarifying why the CFTC settled its case after four years of litigation, why it failed to include any findings of fact and conclusions of law, or why it agreed to withhold settlement information to the public.
“When the CFTC settled with Kraft and Mondelēz in secret, it left the public in the dark as to how it applied its authority in a closely-watched, four-year market manipulation case. Our settlement with the CFTC is a victory not only for industry stakeholders, but also for government transparency more broadly,” said Kobre & Kim lawyer George Stamatopoulos.
“Confidentiality is of extreme importance to our clients,” Stamatopoulos continued. “We brought this action to protect this vital interest in confidentiality, and our efforts here were mirrored by the contempt proceedings in the Kraft litigation, following which the CFTC settled this case.”
Stamatopoulos concluded: “As part of the settlement, the CFTC produced a tranche of documents in response to Kobre & Kim's FOIA requests that it had previously resisted. This sends a strong message to the CFTC and other regulators that confidentiality must be respected, and Kobre & Kim will always vigorously enforce it on behalf of our clients. We look forward to keeping the CFTC and other regulators honest.”