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Lawyers consider action against Griffin's US parent

LAWYERS representing some of the 110 self-employed Liffe futures traders put out of business by the fall of Griffin, the Chicago-based futures broker, are considering taking action against Roger and Tex Griffin, the American multi-millionaires behind Griffin Trading.

The threat of action in the US emerged as the lawyers began talks with the Securities and Futures Authority (SFA) in an effort to win compensation for the traders.

David Greene of Edwin Coe, which is representing a number of locals - as the traders are known - said that as the UK arm of Griffin was only a branch of the Chicago operation, the American company might be legally liable to compensate the Liffe traders.

Yesterday traders in London warned that the pounds 6m losses made by John Ho Park that led to Griffin's closure before Christmas could result in an ugly legal battle. The three solicitors' firms retained by the traders are threatening legal action against the SFA or the US parent company as a last resort.

None of the locals can start to trade again until they get back some of their funds that were frozen when Griffin collapsed. Stephen Woolfe of City law firm Taylor Joynson Garrett, who is advising four locals, said: "We are looking at the options for recovering [the locals'] assets from Griffin as quickly as possible - either through the regulators or through Griffin itself."

Mr Woolfe said one key question was whether the locals' funds should have been pooled by MeesPierson, the Dutch bank that cleared for Mr Park on the Eurex exchange, or whether they should have been kept in separate "designated" accounts for each trader.

Another avenue could be to allege a "breach of trust" by the Dutch bank on the grounds that locals' funds were being held in trust, said Mr Woolfe.