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Kraft Heinz, Mondelez headed back to court over wheat futures case

A key U.S. regulatory body for derivatives is preparing to go to court again over allegations that a forerunner to The Kraft Heinz Co. and Mondelez International Inc. manipulated wheat markets.

The Commodity Futures Trading Commission will face off against the food companies later this year. However, no trial date has been set, according to documents filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. The deposition of a CFTC expert was scheduled to take place Jan. 2-3, with the parties slated to decide Feb. 13 on a trial date.

The case will mark a revival of the conflict between the CFTC and the food companies dating back to 2011, before both Kraft Foods Group's merger with the H.J. Heinz Corp. and the spinoff of Kraft's snacks business into Mondelez.

In its original complaint, the CFTC alleged that Kraft bought $90 million of December 2011 wheat futures with the intent of depressing the price of the commodity on the cash market. Kraft managed to off-load its futures contracts while buying wheat for its operations on the spot market, allowing the company to pay less than it would have otherwise, according to the complaint.

The CFTC said in August 2019 that Mondelez and Kraft Heinz had agreed to pay $16 million as part of a settlement. But a federal judge threw out that deal after the companies argued that a press release detailing the resolution violated a gag order that the CFTC had agreed to.

Kraft Heinz declined to comment on the case. Mondelez did not immediately respond to a request for comment.