DOJ faces opposition to request for additional stay in Forex benchmark rate manipulation lawsuit

Maria Nikolova

The continuance of the stay has been almost two years, the plaintiffs in a lawsuit targeting major banks like JPMorgan and Citi note.

Further to the most recent request by the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) for an additional stay in a Forex benchmark rate manipulation lawsuit targeting major banks like HSBC, Citi and JPMorgan, the plaintiffs have reacted by opposing the request.

The relevant documents were filed with the New York Southern District Court on Wednesday, December 19, 2018.

Let’s recall that the lawsuit, captioned Nypl v. JP Morgan Chase & Co. et al (1:15-cv-09300), was brought on behalf of a putative class of consumers and end-user businesses alleging that they paid inflated Forex rates caused by an alleged conspiracy among the defendant banks to fix prices of FX benchmark rates in violation of Section 1 of the Sherman Antitrust Act, 15 U.S.C. sec. 1 et seq.

Under the terms of the stay granted in June, depositions and interviews of current and former employees of Citibank, JPMorgan Chase, Barclays, RBS, UBS, BNP Paribas, and HSBC, are stayed. The stay bars depositions of signatories to the May 2015 corporate plea agreements, which plaintiff counsel in the case at hand has proposed to take.

In their response filed on Wednesday, the plaintiffs oppose the continuance of the stay for an additional three months prohibiting them from taking the depositions of the signatories of the guilty Plea Agreements or “another witness competent to testify to the substance of the plea at trial.”

The plaintiffs note that the continuance of the stay prohibiting them from taking these depositions has been almost two years, and will be more than two years if the stay is continued. On at least seven occasions, the DOJ has sought the continuance of the stay in increments of three months, and once for six months, on the basis that the depositions would somehow interfere with the DOJ’s prosecution of its criminal cases.

The plaintiffs argue that the circumstances have substantially changed. In addition to the fact that the Plea Agreements specifically include and require restitution, the DOJ has concluded its trial and prosecution of the principal individuals.

According to the plaintiffs, they have been and will continue to be substantially and unjustifiably prejudiced if the stay is continued yet again.

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