Former precious metals trader loses fight with US Govt over investigation interview

Maria Nikolova

Court has denied James Vorley’s motion to suppress the statements he made during the last interview with his former employer Deutsche Bank.

James Vorley, a former Deutsche Bank precious metals trader accused of spoofing, will not be allowed to suppress statements he made during an interview with his former employer. This becomes clear from a Memorandum Opinion signed by the Honorable John J. Tharp of the Illinois Northern District Court on March 11, 2020.

As FinanceFeeds has reported, James Vorley has moved to suppress statements he made during an interview conducted by two Deutsche Bank employees on March 17, 2015. He maintains that his statements during this interview were compelled by the government in violation of the Fifth Amendment.

Vorley makes two main claims regarding the disciplinary investigation interview that took place on March 17, 2015:

  •  that his statements were coerced under the threat he would not receive compensation;
  • that the interview was a part of the bank’s co-operation with the Government.

On March 9, 2015, just two days before his last day of work, he received a letter stating that he was “required” to attend a disciplinary investigation interview. The letter “strongly encouraged” Vorley to answer questions, while threatening that an adverse finding by the disciplinary panel could result in forfeiture of his deferred compensation.

Vorley stressed that Deutsche Bank showed no interest whatsoever in disciplining him for months after it questioned him in May 2014 about the “spoofing it up” chat. It then terminated him as redundant and offered him a severance package. However, once it began cooperating with the government’s precious metals investigation, including with respect to interviews of employees, it referred Vorley for a disciplinary investigation interview.

According to the trader, there is no evidence that the bank had any reason for reopening its investigation of him in the final days of his employment other than its desire to earn cooperation credit from the government. The most reasonable conclusion to be drawn in these circumstances is that the March 17, 2015 disciplinary investigation interview was conducted as part of the bank’s cooperation, Vorley says.

In the opinion issued today, the Judge sided with the United States Government and concluded that Vorley’s statements were not “compelled” within the meaning of the Fifth Amendment. Hence, his motion to suppress was denied.

The Fifth Amendment, in relevant part, provides that no person “shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself.” This prohibition is in play in this case because the government seeks to introduce statements made by Vorley in its case-in-chief at the trial of this matter.

The threshold issue presented by Vorley’s motion is whether his statements to the Deutsche Bank investigators during the March 17, 2015 interview were “compelled” within the meaning of the Fifth Amendment.

The Judge finds it is indisputable that Vorley was not “compelled” to answer the Bank’s questions during the March 17, 2015 interview, as he refused to answer any questions about his trading activity other than those concerning a single trading sequence in which he engaged. Vorley answered the questions he was willing to answer and refused to answer those that he did not.

The Judge notes that Vorley does not explain (and the Court cannot fathom) why Vorley believed that refusing to answer the Bank’s questions about trading on March 16, 2011 would mean the loss of his deferred compensation while refusing to answer questions about the other “similar trading conduct” in 2011 the Bank wanted to explore would not.

The lawsuit continues at the Illinois Northern District Court.

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