FX Cartel traders gear up for oral argument in Forex market manipulation case

Maria Nikolova

The Indictment alleges that Christopher Ashton, Rohan Ramchandani, and Richard Usher used chat room discussions to “suppress and eliminate competition” in the global FX market through coordinating their bidding, offering, and trading.

An oral argument in a Forex market manipulation case is scheduled to take place today at the New York Southern District Court, with the main aim of the conference being to hear the parties’ arguments regarding the defendants’ motion to dismiss the indictment.

As FinanceFeeds has reported, Christopher Ashton, Rohan Ramchandani, and Richard Usher, who were currency traders for banks in London, have pleaded not guilty to the complaint against them. The three former Forex traders, also known as FX Cartel or FX Mafia, are accused of agreeing during chat room discussions to “suppress and eliminate competition” in the global FX market through coordinating their bidding, offering, and trading.

According to the defendants, there was no per se violation of the Sherman Act on their part, as Ashton, Ramchandani, and Usher were not always buyers, or always sellers, in the FX spot market, and rather, they were standing in vertical relationships—on different sides of the market. Restraints of trade in such vertical relationships are not per se Sherman Act offenses, the defense has argued.

Also, according to the defense, the US Courts lack the “considerable experience” with the practices intrinsic to FX trading that is necessary to support a conclusion that the conduct alleged in this case is per se unlawful.

The motion filed by the defendants notes that information sharing is not necessarily anticompetitive.

The defendants also challenged the indictment in terms of scope of jurisdiction. Thus, the defendants note that the Indictment does not allege that they ever engaged in transactions in a US domestic market. To the contrary, the only trading platform identified in the Indictment, EBS, is owned and operated by a company located in the United Kingdom.

Other problems to be addressed at the coming conference include the schedule for producing evidence. The parties are still unable to reach an agreement on the deadline for the Government’s pretrial disclosures of trading data relevant to the 75 “episodes” of alleged coordinated trading between the former traders. The Government wishes to delay its disclosures until July 6 and August 10, whereas the Defendants want speedier procedures.

Also, there seem to be uncertainties as to the defendants’ visas. The traders would like to make two trips—one in late June and one in mid-August—that would not be tied to a specific court appearance. However, the Department of Homeland Security might not grant visa applications for such travel. The defense is asking the Court for assistance in this respect.

The case is captioned USA v. Usher et al (1:17-cr-00019).

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