NY Court denies plaintiffs’ request to amend complaint in Forex benchmark rate fixing lawsuit

Maria Nikolova

The lawsuit targets some of the major banks, such as JPMorgan Chase & Co., Barclays Capital, Citi, and Bank of America Corp.

The plaintiffs in a Forex benchmark rate rigging lawsuit targeting some of the world’s major banks suffered a bitter blow on Monday, May 20, 2019, as Judge Lorna G. Schofield of the New York Southern District Court denied their request to amend their complaint.

The request, which was filed in January 2019, centered around the definition of “foreign currency retail transactions”. According to the plaintiffs, “foreign currency retail transactions” should include transactions other than those involving foreign currency purchased with USD and physically received at the defendant banks’ retail branches within the United States, including credit and debit card transactions and ATM cash withdrawals abroad.

Let’s recall that this lawsuit was brought by Go Everywhere, Inc., Valarie Jolly, Mad Travel, Inc., Lisa McCarthy, John Nypl, and William Rubinsohn. The list of defendants includes JPMorgan Chase & Co. (NYSE:JPM), JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A., Barclays Capital, Inc., Citibank, N.A., Citigroup Inc (NYSE:C), Bank of America Corp (NYSE:BAC), Bank of America, N.A, HSBC Bank USA, N.A., and HSBC North America Holdings, Inc. A putative class of consumers and end-user businesses allege that they paid inflated Forex rates caused by an alleged conspiracy among the defendant banks to fix prices of FX benchmark rates in violation of Section 1 of the Sherman Antitrust Act, 15 U.S.C. sec. 1 et seq.

On May 20, 2019, the Judge nixed the plaintiffs’ request to amend the complaint. Leave to amend is futile where “the claims the plaintiff [seeks] to add would be barred by the applicable statute of limitations”, the Judge said.

There is a four year statute of limitations for actions brought under the Sherman Act. Because this action is limited to claims that accrued on or before December 31, 2013, the statute of limitations for all claims expired on December 31, 2017 at the latest. Hence, the plaintiffs’ request, filed in January 2019, is untimely.

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