Investigation of United States Oil Fund, LP
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United States Oil Fund, LP (USO) Accused of Misleading Shareholders
In early 2020, the demand for oil fell precipitously as governments imposed lockdowns and business halted operations in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Rather than disclosing the risks these conditions presented to the Fund, USO conducted a massive offering in March 2020, selling billions of dollars’ worth of USO shares to the market. After the offering, USO began to suffer extraordinary losses. Consequently, throughout April, USO made significant changes to its investment strategy to mitigate the market’s negative impact on the Fund until it was fundamentally different from the strategy detailed in its offering’s registration statement. Despite efforts to improve the Fund’s position, by April 28, 2020, USO closed at $2.13 per share, down over 60% since March 19, 2020. Finally, on May 6, 2020, USO disclosed that the 2020 market conditions that had caused severe damage to investors had materially impacted the Fund before its March 2019 offering, but was omitted from USO’s registration statement. Consequently, on May 29, 2020, the SEC and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission launched investigations into USO regarding the Fund’s disclosures to investors and the Fund’s rapid-fire changes to its investment strategy.