DOJ insists former JPMorgan FX trader should get prison term

Maria Nikolova

Akshay Aiyer, convicted for his participation in an antitrust conspiracy to manipulate prices for emerging market currencies in the Forex market, deserves a sentence of imprisonment of between 37–46 months, the US authorities argue.

The United States Department of Justice (DOJ) has opposed a request by Akshay Aiyer, former currency trader at JPMorgan convicted for his participation in an antitrust conspiracy to manipulate prices for emerging market currencies in the Forex market, for a sentence of probation.

In a letter filed with the New York Southern District Court on September 10, 2020, the DOJ says that Court should reject Aiyer’s request because the defendant:

  • overstates the certainty of possible collateral consequences flowing from his alienage and any custodial sentence greater than one year;
  • claims he is “similarly situated” to two defendants sentenced in the Southern District of New York, when he is not; and
  • exaggerates safety concerns by ignoring the affirmative measures the Bureau of Prisons (“BOP”) has taken to protect inmates from COVID-19 and the fact that, as a healthy, 37-year-old, he lacks any characteristic that would place him at greater risk of contracting, or suffering severe illness from, COVID-19.

Further, the DOJ argues the defendant’s requested sentence would severely undervalue the seriousness of the offense and the need to provide just punishment, promote respect for the law, promote general deterrence for white-collar criminals, and avoid unwarranted sentencing disparity among others convicted of the same crime.

According to the DOJ, the Court should impose a sentence that is sufficient but not greater than necessary to achieve the purposes of sentencing—namely, a period of imprisonment of between 37–46 months, supervised release of three years, and a substantial criminal fine as set out in the government’s Sentencing Memorandum.

Let’s recall that, in November 2019, a jury found Akshay Aiyer guilty of knowingly entering into and participating in a conspiracy to fix prices and rig bids of currencies from Central and Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and Africa (CEEMEA currencies). He was found to have conspired with Christopher Cummins, Jason Katz, and Nicholas Williams to manipulate the FX market. They rigged bids to customers and coordinated their trading in the interdealer market to push price in their favor, and to the disadvantage of others in the market. The list of those affected includes pension funds, college savings funds, foundations, mutual funds, and retirement accounts.

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