Ray E. Friedman

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Ray E. Friedman
Occupation Co-Founder - Refco

Ray E. Friedman was an American businessman, cattle trader, gambler, philanthropist, pardoned convict and founder of Ray E. Friedman & Company (REFCO), which became one of the largest futures brokers in the U.S. He died in 2004 at the age of 91.

He was the step-father of Thomas Dittmer, with whom he co-founded REFCO in 1969.[1] Friedman would sell the firm to Dittmer in 1974.

Friedman was a controversial figure whose company was fined by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission and the National Futures Association over 140 times.

Friedman ran a wholesale food business in Sioux City, IA. Friedman served time in prison for a scheme where he sold chickens to the U.S. Army with the data stamps forged. He sold grade B chickens to the Army marked as grade A[2][3]


Friedman was born in Sioux City, IA on September 11, 1913. When he left Sioux City when he was 68 years old and moved to Palm Beach, FL, he donated his home to Briar Cliff College.[4]

He was a philanthropist who gave to a variety of charities. He was a benefactor of the Orthodox Synagogue in Sioux City, where he was a member.

He gave money to the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research, the Barton Center for Diabetes Education, Orbis International and the Simon Wiesenthal Center. he also gave to Cystic Fibrosis, the 19th Hole, the Heart Association and the Richard David Kann Melanoma Foundation and he was a founder of the Kravis Center.


In 1992, charges were brought against REFCO and Friedman for exceeding the speculative position limits on pork belly futures while trading in conjunction with customers. From October 1990 to January 1991, regulators charged REFCO did not properly supervise Friedman's trading activities.

REFCO settled the charges, paying a fine of $440,000 and agreed to "cease and desist" from future violations of the Exchange Act.

As part of the settlement, Friedman settled personal charges against him by paying a fine of $150,000, agreeing to surrender his floor broker registration and sever all ties with REFCO. He was also barred for two months from trading futures and options. He was then banned for six-months from trading pork belly futures and options.



  1. https://www.trendfollowing.com/whitepaper/SSRN-id1145930.pdf. Trendfollwoing.com.
  2. How Refco veered from debut to bankruptcy. Financial Times.
  3. The Futures: The Rise of the Speculator and the Origins of the World's. Google Books.
  4. Raymond E. Friedman. Sioux City Journal.