Former JPMorgan FX trader to serve 8 months in prison for price fixing and bid rigging

Maria Nikolova

Akshay Aiyer will also have to pay $150,000 criminal fine for his participation in an antitrust conspiracy to manipulate prices in the global FX market.

Akshay Aiyer, a former currency trader at JPMorgan, was sentenced on September 17, 2020, to serve eight months in jail and ordered to pay a $150,000 criminal fine for his participation in an antitrust conspiracy to manipulate prices for emerging market currencies in the global FX market.

Let’s recall that Aiyer had pushed for a non-custodial sentence, whereas the Department of Justice had insisted that he should get a prison sentence of between 37–46 months.

In November 2019, Aiyer was convicted after a three-week jury trial in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York for conspiring to fix prices and rig bids in Central and Eastern European, Middle Eastern, and African (CEEMEA) currencies, which were generally traded against the U.S. dollar and the euro, from at least October 2010 through at least January 2013.

According to evidence presented at trial, the defendant engaged in near-daily communications with his co-conspirators by phone, text, and through an exclusive electronic chat room to coordinate their trades of the CEEMEA currencies in the FX spot market. The jury heard evidence that the defendant and his co-conspirators manipulated exchange rates by agreeing to withhold bids or offers to avoid moving the exchange rate in a direction adverse to open positions held by co-conspirators and by coordinating their trading to manipulate the rates in an effort to increase their profits.

By agreeing not to buy or sell at certain times, the conspiring traders protected each other’s trading positions by withholding supply of or demand for currency and suppressing competition in the FX spot market for emerging market currencies. They also heard evidence that the defendant and his co-conspirators took steps to conceal their actions by, among other steps, using code names, communicating on personal cell phones during work hours, and meeting in person to discuss particular customers and trading strategies.

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