Former JPMorgan trader convicted of FX market bid rigging seeks non-custodial sentence

Maria Nikolova

This case has wreaked immeasurable havoc on Akshay Aiyer’s life and the lives of those closest to him, the defense argues.

Akshay Aiyer, former currency trader at JPMorgan who was convicted for his participation in an antitrust conspiracy to manipulate prices for emerging market currencies in the Forex market, on Monday submitted a memorandum to aid the New York Southern District Court in determining an appropriate sentence in his case.

The defense notes that the conduct for which Aiyer was convicted stands in stark contrast to the person whom those closest to him describe. Mr. Aiyer is described by his closest people as a selfless person. “Generous,” “sensitive,” and “caring” are some of the descriptors attributed to Aiyer.

The defendant’s memorandum also says that Aiyer has always been a law-abiding, upstanding person. He has never had any legal troubles prior to this case, much less a criminal record.

Further, the memorandum says that Just as the conduct at issue in this case is unlike the typical criminal antitrust case. “This case bears little resemblance to traditional price fixing or bid rigging. This case does not feature any bid rotation scheme, as in most bid rigging cases, nor any agreed-upon, supra-competitive pricing, as in most price fixing cases,” the defense argues.

The defense asks the Court, when determining Aiyer’s sentence, to give full consideration to the letters written in support of Aiyer and all of the relevant factors, especially as they relate to his character.

“In Mr. Aiyer’s case, we submit that a non-custodial sentence of a term of probation, with a special condition of a period of home confinement, would fully satisfy both the objectives of sentencing and the call of justice”, the defense says.

Let’s recall that, in November 2019, Aiyer was convicted of conspiring to fix prices and rig bids in Central and Eastern European, Middle Eastern and African (CEEMEA) currencies, which were generally traded against the USD and the EUR, from at least October 2010 through at least January 2013.

According to evidence presented at trial, Aiyer 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.

The jury 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.

The sentencing of Aiyer is currently scheduled for May 29, 2020.

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