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CFTC Photo: Diego M. Radzinschi/NLJ

A Chicago federal judge on Monday will question the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission over claims that its public statements announcing a $16 million settlement with two major food manufacturers went beyond the limited scope of what enforcers were allowed to say.

The two companies, Kraft Food Groups Inc. and Mondelēz Global LLC, said statements from the commodities agency Thursday “blatantly violate” the terms of a settlement resolving allegations of price manipulation in the wheat market. The consent order, ending four years of litigation, contained a provision that barred both sides from making “any public statement about this case other than to refer to the terms of this settlement agreement or public documents filed in this case.”

Heath Tarbert Heath Tarbert. Credit: Diego M. Radzinschi/ NLJ

CFTC chairman Heath Tarbert, announcing the settlement in a news release, said market manipulation “inflicts real pain on farmers by denying them the fair value of their hard work and crops.” He added: “It also hurts American families by raising the costs of putting food on the table. Instances of market manipulation are precisely the kinds of cases the CFTC was founded to pursue.”

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