DOJ requests extension of discovery stay in Forex benchmark rate manipulation lawsuit

Maria Nikolova

The Department of Justice requests another three-month extension to the stay in a case targeting some of the world’s major banks.

The discovery stay in a Forex benchmark rate manipulation lawsuit targeting major banks like Citi, HSBC and JPMorgan, may continue if the New York Southern District Court sides with the Department of Justice (DOJ). 

Earlier this week, the Department filed a Letter with the Court, asking for a three-month extension of the limited discovery stay of certain depositions and interviews in several lawsuits, including the case captioned Nypl v. JP Morgan Chase & Co. et al (1:15-cv-09300). The Department submits that the stay is necessary given the upcoming trial and appeal in two FX-related cases:

  • United States v. Aiyer, 18-cr-333, is set for trial before Judge Koeltl of the Southern District of New York on October 21, 2019.
  • United States v. Johnson, 18-1503-cr, is on appeal to the Second Circuit. The case has been fully briefed, and the Second Circuit has proposed the week of May 28, 2019 for oral argument.

Plaintiffs in the Nypl matter oppose the Department’s request. By March 29, 2019, the Nypl plaintiffs shall file a letter, responding to the Department’s request for an extension of the discovery stay.

Let’s recall that the case 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.

The discovery in this case has earlier been stayed as a result of DOJ’s requests. The previous such stay was granted in December 2018. Back then, the plaintiffs also opposed the stay. The Judge however, was, obviously, unimpressed with their objections. They had stressed that the continuance of the stay had already been almost two years.

The Department says that the scope of the stay appropriately balances the need to protect the integrity of ongoing cases with Plaintiffs’ desire for testimonial discovery at this juncture of the civil cases.

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