NY Court sides with top banks over testimony by senior execs in FX benchmark rate fixing case

Maria Nikolova

Judge Lorna G. Schofield quashed the requests of the plaintiffs for depositions by senior executives and legal counsel at top banks, including HSBC, RBS, JPM, UBS, Barclays, and Citi.

Judge Lorna G. Schofield of the New York Southern District Court on Thursday sided with a number of top banks over testimony requests.

The plaintiffs in the Forex benchmark fixing case, captioned Nypl v. JP Morgan Chase & Co. et al (1:15-cv-09300), had requested depositions from several current and former senior executives and legal counsel at the banks. The defendants, however, had argued against the plaintiffs’ motion. The plaintiffs and the defendants have turned to the Court to resolve the dispute.

Following a a telephone conference held before the Court on Wednesday, Judge Lorna G. Schofield has decided to side with the defendants in the case. Today, she granted the defendants’ application to quash the deposition notices served by the plaintiffs. The plaintiffs, however, may renew their notices after the DOJ discovery stay is lifted.

The plaintiffs had planned to take depositions from:

  • Stuart Alderoty, Esq., former Senior Executive Vice President and General Counsel, HSBC Bank USA, N.A.;
  • Marc Moses, Executive Director and Group Chief Risk Officer, HSBC Holdings plc;
  • James Fuqua, Esq., General Counsel, UBS Securities LLC, Investment Bank Americas;
  • Axel Weber, Chairman of the Board of Directors, UBS Group AG;
  • Matthew Fitzwater, Esq., Global Head of Litigation, Investigations, and Enforcement, Barclays PLC;
  • Rohan Weerasinghe, Esq., General Counsel and Corporate Secretary, Citigroup, Inc.;
  • Stephen Cutler, Esq., former General Counsel and current Vice Chairman, JPMorgan Chase & Co.;
  • James Esposito, Esq., Global General Counsel, NatWest Markets and General Counsel (Americas), Royal Bank of Scotland.

The banks argued that the plaintiffs are seeking the noticed depositions not because of any unique knowledge specific to the putative deponents, but because they believe that those individuals will be able to identify easily for Plaintiffs specifically “what documents” the defendants relied upon in settling regulatory charges and “which documents show the violation which [Defendants] have pled guilty to.”

Also, the banks assert that the plaintiffs’ strategy seeks to elicit improper privileged information from these apex deponents.

The plaintiffs insisted that there is no court order that would “prohibit the taking of depositions of those very persons who signed the criminal Plea Agreements and Deferred Prosecution Agreement in which they acknowledged a vast price-fixing scheme covering many years and affecting billions of dollars stolen from unsuspecting victims”.

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