The boss of a Florida-based financial firm has made a tearful video apology to clients after bad bets on oil and natural gas prices wiped out their investments.
James Cordier blamed a recent bout of market volatility for the losses, which are set to destroy his firm.
“I truly invested your funds like you were family,” he said in the 10-minute video posted on YouTube.
“I’m sorry that this rogue wave capsized our boat.”
Natural gas prices enjoyed their biggest one-day percentage gain in eight years on Wednesday last week, only to suffered their largest one-day loss in 15 years the very next day.
Meanwhile, oil prices have also fallen sharply.
Mr Cordier is president of OptionSellers.com, based in Tampa, and co-wrote a book called The Complete Guide to Option Selling.
The company managed money for wealthy investors and specialised in options, which give investors the right to buy or sell at a pre-determined price.
OptionSellers said the losses were its “clients’ private business. We are in communication with them.”
It was not clear how much money the firm managed or the size of the losses. Mr Cordier said in his video that he had 290 clients.
However, the losses could total more than $150m, according to Ohio lawyer Jason Albin, who has been in contact with about 80 clients.
Mr Albin said he thought the trades, which in some cases involved retirement accounts, should not have been permitted because of the risk involved.
He is looking at taking legal action against INTL FCStone, the brokerage that cleared the bets on behalf of Mr Cordier’s company.
INTL FCStone declined to comment on the claims.
The firm said accounts managed by Optionsellers.com were liquidated after “unprecedented volatility” in the oil and gas markets last week.
“Although well collateralized, accounts managed by a commodities trading advisor, Optionsellers.com, had to be liquidated as a result of these moves,” the company said.
“Liquidation of these accounts was in accordance with our customer agreements and our obligations under market regulation and standards.”