No escape: Former traders face prison, hefty fines over FX manipulation charges in the US

Maria Nikolova

The charge in the indictment carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $1 million fine for Richard Usher, Rohan Ramchandani and Christopher Ashton.

court

The United States Department of Justice (DoJ) announced on Tuesday that a federal grand jury has issued an indictment against three ex-traders at major banks over their alleged participation in a conspiracy to manipulate the FX spot market.

The indictment charges Richard Usher – former Head of G11 FX Trading-UK at an affiliate of The Royal Bank of Scotland plc and former Managing Director at an affiliate of JPMorgan Chase & Co., Rohan Ramchandani – former Managing Director and head of G10 FX spot trading at an affiliate of Citicorp, and Christopher Ashton – former Head of Spot FX at an affiliate of Barclays PLC, with conspiring to fix prices and rig bids for US dollars and euros in the Forex spot market.

The indictment states that, from at least December 2007 through at least January 2013, Usher, Ramchandani and Ashton, formed a part of the so-called “Cartel” or “Mafia”. This group of traders participated in telephone calls and electronic messages to carry out their conspiracy. The anticompetitive behavior included colluding around the time of certain benchmark rates and coordinating their orders and trading to manipulate the price of the currency pair, such as by refraining from entering orders or trading at certain times.

FinanceFeeds has been monitoring the developments around “the Cartel”. In July 2016, FinanceFeeds reported that former UBS FX trader Matthew Gardiner, known as a key participant in the “Cartel”, had agreed to provide information about its activities to US authorities. Back then, officials in the United States voiced their confidence that they will be able to charge individual traders with manipulation of currency markets as a result of Mr. Gardiner’s co-operation. His pseudonym – ‘Fossil’, had come about due to his seniority in age over other traders in ‘the Cartel’.

Regarding the latest indictment Principal Deputy Associate Attorney General Bill Baer said yesterday: “We previously secured criminal convictions of the financial institutions involved in the misconduct. Today we seek to hold accountable the individuals who conspired on their behalf.”

The charge in the indictment against Richard Usher, Rohan Ramchandani and Christopher Ashton is merely an allegation and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty, the DoJ notes. The charge in the indictment carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $1 million fine.

The indictment follows the May 20, 2015 agreements of Barclays PLC, Citicorp, JPMorgan Chase & Co., and The Royal Bank of Scotland plc to plead guilty to conspiring to manipulate prices in the FX spot market. The banks then agreed to pay criminal fines exceeding $2.5 billion.

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