Last week, the CFTC charged FirstRand Bank, Ltd., a South African-based financial services company, with non-competitive trading, in violation of applicable law and rules. According to the CFTC, the bank's violations occurred at various times from June 2009 to August 2011 when employees of FirstRand and another unnamed company had conversations prior to trading on opposite sides of trades involving Chicago Board of Trade soybean futures contracts. The CFTC claims that, during these conversations, the parties agreed on the precise futures contract they would trade opposite each other, the quantity, the direction each side would take (i.e., buy or sell), the price and the timing. The CFTC noted that FirstRand claimed it participated in these prearranged conversations to hedge positions on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange’s SAFEX Commodity Derivatives Markets where certain pre-arranged trades are permitted. Apparently, says the CFTC, FirstRand “mistakenly believed” that since SAFEX permitted pre-arranged transactions “so did the [Chicago Mercantile Exchange].” The CFTC also noted that, “[u]pon being alerted to concerns about its prearranged trading… FirstRand immediately ceased such trading and it has cooperated fully during the investigation.” FirstRand agreed to pay a fine of US $150,000 to resolve the CFTC’s charges and to augment its policies related to pre-arranged and non-competitive transactions, among other undertakings.