First Criminal Charge Against a Commodities Trading Advisor and Commodities Pool Operator for Engaging in a “Cherry-Picking” Scheme Involving Cryptocurrency Futures Contracts
A chief executive officer of an investment firm was sentenced today to two years in prison followed by one year and six months of home confinement and ordered to forfeit approximately $1.6 million for a “cherry-picking” scheme, in which he fraudulently misappropriated profitable trades to himself and saddled his investors with losses.
According to court documents, Peter Kambolin, 48, a U.S.-Russian national of Sunny Isles Beach, Florida, was the owner and chief executive officer of Systematic Alpha Management LLC (SAM), an investment firm that Kambolin marketed as offering algorithmic trading strategies involving futures contracts. Established in 2007, by 2011, SAM had more than $720 million in assets under management. Between January 2019 and November 2021, Kambolin, who at the time was a commodity trading advisor and a commodity pool operator, engaged in a cherry-picking scheme in which he fraudulently allocated profits and losses from futures trades in a manner designed to benefit his own accounts unfairly at the expense of his clients. Kambolin also misrepresented to his clients that SAM employed trading strategies focused on cryptocurrency futures contracts and foreign exchange futures contracts, when in reality, approximately half of Kambolin’s trading in each pool involved equity index futures contracts. In doing so, Kambolin defrauded investors located in the United States and abroad by, among other things, depriving them of profitable trades. Kambolin used the proceeds of the scheme to fund personal expenses, including rent for a beachfront apartment, and transferred proceeds to foreign bank accounts his co-conspirator controlled in Belarus and Dominica.
During the relevant period, Kambolin executed trades for pool participants together with trades he executed on behalf of his proprietary accounts, and fraudulently allocated the profits and losses of the trades to benefit his own accounts.
Kambolin pleaded guilty on Oct. 11, 2023, to one count of conspiracy to commit commodities fraud.
Acting Assistant Attorney General Nicole M. Argentieri of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and Assistant Inspector General for Investigations Shimon R. Richmond of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation Office of Inspector General (FDIC-OIG) made the announcement.
The FDIC-OIG investigated the case. The Commodity Futures Trading Commission previously charged Kambolin and SAM by complaint.
Trial Attorney Matt Kahn of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section prosecuted the case.
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