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Crime at Merc Widespread, FBI Testifies

January 31, 1990

CHICAGO (AP) _ Illegal trading was widespread on the floor of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange during the more than a year that undercover FBI agents spent posing as commodity traders there, one of the agents testified.

Agent Dietrich Volk, testifying Tuesday at a pretrial hearing involving three indicted traders, said illegal trading was ″systemic and pervasive″ at the Merc.

Officials at the Merc and the Chicago Board of Trade, the world’s two largest futures exchanges, have repeatedly said abuses are not widespread on their trading floors.

They have characterized the 48 traders and a clerk indicted since August on charges of defrauding customers as a few bad apples compared with hundreds of honest traders.

Volk’s testimony in the U.S. District Court hearing marks the first time that any of the FBI agents who posed as traders at the Merc and the Board of Trade has commented publicly about the sting operation.

The three-day hearing, which is scheduled to end today, was being held regarding motions filed on behalf of three yen-futures traders at the Merc: Sam Cali, John Baker and Borbert Bailin.

The three are seeking to suppress statements they made last January to government agents implicating themselves and others in illegal trading activities.

They contend the government illegally coerced the statements from them, in some cases at their homes, before they had a chance to talk with their lawyers.

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