Former Head of FX Trading at Wells Fargo refuses to give info in Forex benchmark rate fixing case

Maria Nikolova

Simon Fowles, ex-Head of FX Trading at Wells Fargo, insists he has no personal knowledge of matters relating to the lawsuit targeting top banks like JP Morgan and Bank of America.

As the Forex benchmark rate fixing case targeting some of the US major banks like JP Morgan, Bank of America, HSBC, and Citibank, continues, the proceedings are now focused on obtaining testimony. Earlier in November, the plaintiffs in the lawsuit asked to take deposition from members of the so-called “FX Cartel”. Now, the plaintiffs in the case are seeking the testimony of Simon Fowles, former Head of FX Trading at Wells Fargo.

According to the plaintiffs, “Wells Fargo Bank per Thomas Kiefer was an active participant in the FX chat rooms in this case”. And since Simon Fowles was the Head of FX Trading at Wells Fargo Bank, he has to give testimony.

On Monday, November 19, 2018, Simon Fowles filed his objection to the subpoena served by the plaintiffs. In the document, seen by FinanceFeeds, Fowles claims he has no personal knowledge of matters relating to the claims asserted by the plaintiffs.

Let’s recall that the plaintiffs launched this putative class action under the Sherman Antitrust Act, alleging that they paid inflated foreign currency exchange rates caused by an alleged conspiracy among JP Morgan, Bank of America, HSBC, Citibank, UBS AG, Barclays PLC, and Royal Bank of Scotland PLC to fix prices in Forex market.

The plaintiffs claim that there is a “mechanical, direct correlation” between the FX benchmark rates that the defendant banks allegedly manipulated and the prices that the banks charged the plaintiffs.

In May 2015, the United Sates Department of Justice (DOJ) announced that defendants Citicorp, JP Morgan Chase & Co, Barclays PLC, Royal Bank of Scotland PLC and UBS AG pleaded guilty to conspiring to manipulate the price of USD and EUR exchanged in the foreign currency exchange spot market. According to the DOJ, traders at these banks used a chat room called “The Cartel” to manipulate benchmark exchange rates. Members of The Cartel allegedly coordinated their EUR/USD trading to manipulate benchmark rates set at the 1.15PM and 4.00 PM fixes in an effort to increase their profits.

Fowles notes that his former employer, Wells Fargo, was not listed among the banks charged with currency manipulation by the DOJ in May 2015.

Furthermore, according to the Fowles’ Letter to Court, Fowles alleges that the plaintiffs seek confidential information regarding Wells Fargo’s internal operating procedures. The subpoena sent to him, he says, is a fishing expedition which has no relevance to this lawsuit.

The case is captioned Nypl v. JP Morgan Chase & Co. et al (1:15-cv-09300).

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