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Kraft, Mondelez to pay $16 million in wheat price manipulation case

Credit: REUTERS/Chris Helgren

The U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) said on Thursday Kraft Heinz Co and Mondelez International Inc will pay $16 million in penalty regarding a wheat manipulation case that dates back to 2015.

Adds details from CFTC statement, background

Aug 15 (Reuters) - The U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) said on Thursday Kraft Heinz Co KHC.O and Mondelez International Inc MDLZ.O will pay $16 million in penalty regarding a wheat manipulation case that dates back to 2015.

Kraft Heinz, which was Kraft Foods until 2015, and Mondelez bought $90 million of December 2011 wheat futures, which gave the companies a dominant position in the market, even though they never intended to take possession of the grain CFTC said.

The move sent a false signal that the companies had demand for wheat and caused an artificial price that earned them more than $5 million in profits, CFTC said.

Both Kraft and Mondelez did not immediately comment.

The trade commission said the companies' goal was to narrow the price spread between the December 2011 and deferred-month wheat futures contracts, causing the market to sell cash wheat to the companies at lower prices, while earning them a profit on their speculative futures positions.

Wheat futures and options traders had also accused the companies of illegally manipulating the grain's price at their expense.

The penalty is about three times the companies' alleged gain, the CFTC said in a statement. (http://bit.ly/2OX1iyo)

(Reporting by Nivedita Balu in Bengaluru; Editing by Arun Koyyur)

((Nivedita.Balu@thomsonreuters.com; within U.S. +1 646 223 8780; outside U.S. +91 80 6749 4822/ Twitter: https://twitter.com/niveditabalu;))

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