Day trader assumes he’s on demo platform, builds real US$5-bn position

The man is suing the brokerage to collect a $15.5-million profit that he managed to rack up

Day trader assumes he’s on demo platform, builds real US$5-bn position

A trainee day trader in France is suing a British brokerage to get his hands on a roughly $15.5-million profit he made using what he at first thought was a demo version of its trading platform.

Last summer, Harouna Traoré opened a 20,000-euro account — equivalent to just over $30,000 — with UK-based brokerage Valbury Capital after learning how to trade equity futures as a retail investor on a dummy version of its platform, reported the Financial Times.  

A couple of weeks afterward, he was practicing trading at home on what he believed to be the demo version. He had placed 1 billion euros’ worth of orders for European and US equity futures when he realized it was actually the live platform; at that point, he was in the hole for more than 1 million euros, or about $1.5 million.

He continued to trade afterward, eventually building up a US$5-billion position in US equity futures and turning a profit of over 10 million euros, which roughly equalled the brokerage’s entire annual revenue. “I could only think of my family,” Traoré told the Times. “I was stressed.”

A few days later, he called Valbury to explain the situation to Valbury. The brokerage then told him that his positions were “void and cancelled.” According to court filings submitted by Traoré and examined by the Times, the brokerage treated the trades as an error because he had assumed he was using a demo platform, and he had exceeded his trading limits.

Traoré filed a writ of summons in the Pontoise district court, north of Paris, claiming breach of contract and negligence. Valbury, denying any wrongdoing, is set to file its initial submission next week.


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