DOJ does not oppose request for “Cartel” traders deposition in FX benchmark rate fixing case

Maria Nikolova

The Department does not oppose that the plaintiffs in a Forex benchmark rate fixing case depose Gardiner, Usher, Ramchandani, and Ashton.

The United States Department of Justice (DOJ) says it has no objections to plaintiffs’ request in a Forex benchmark rate fixing case to depose the members of the so-called “Forex Cartel”.

On Monday, November 5, 2018, the DOJ filed a response to the plaintiffs’ request in a case which targets some of the world’s major banks, like HSBC, Citi and JPMorgan. The case, 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 some of the US top 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.

Let’s recall that, in late October, the plaintiffs in the case filed a request with the New York Southern District Court, asking that to lift and vacate the stay of the Court’s Order of September 25, 2018, which prohibited the Nypl plaintiffs from taking the depositions of the signatories to the Plea Agreements and Deferred Prosecution Agreement (and/or other witnesses competent to testify to the substance of the Pleas at trial).

They also asked to be allowed to take the depositions of the participants in the “Cartel” chatroom; namely, Messers Matthew Gardiner (the Government’s chief witness in the “Cartel” case), Christopher Ashton, Richard Usher, and Rohan Ramchandani.

The request was filed shortly after a Jury cleared Ashton, Usher, and Ramchandani, of Forex market rigging.

On Monday, November 5, 2018, the DOJ made it clear that it “construes the NYPL Plaintiffs’ request to depose Gardiner, Usher, Ramchandani, and Ashton as such, and does not object if Plaintiffs attempt to depose those individuals, who are resident in the United Kingdom”.

However, the Department objects to the NYPL Plaintiffs’ request that it be required to identify witnesses competent to testify about the substance of the bank pleas, and to produce all documents related to the negotiation of those pleas. The DOJ argues that it is not a party to this case and is under no obligation to identify witnesses for the Plaintiffs or to produce plea negotiation documents.

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