Plaintiffs in Forex benchmark rate fixing lawsuit want to amend complaint against major banks

Maria Nikolova

After the New York Southern District Court sided with some of the world’s leading banks on the definition of “foreign currency retail transactions”, the plaintiffs want to amend their complaint to support their stance on the matter.

Go Everywhere, Inc., Valarie Jolly, Mad Travel, Inc., Lisa McCarthy, John Nypl, and William Rubinsohn – plaintiffs in a lawsuit targeting targeting top banks like 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., are seeking to amend their complaint.

On Friday, January 18, 2019, the plaintiffs filed a Letter with the New York Southern District Court, requesting the Court’s permission to amend their complaint against the defendants.

The amendments that the plaintiffs seek to introduce concern the definition of “foreign currency retail transactions” over which the parties in this Forex benchmark rate fixing lawsuit have already clashed. 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.

In September last year, Judge Lorna G. Schofield of the New York Southern District Court sided with the defendant banks over the definition of “foreign currency retail transactions”.

Back in September 2018, the Judge explained the words “credit card,” “debit card,” and “ATM” do not appear in any of the complaints, nor does any named Plaintiff claim to have engaged in such transactions. The expert declaration submitted in support of the third complaint shows a correlation only between the allegedly manipulated benchmark rates and physical currency exchange rates at Defendants’ retail branches, and contains no analysis of exchange rates for credit, debit or ATM transactions.

In their Letter filed on January 18, 2019, the plaintiffs request leave to file a motion to amend their complaint to address the precise deficiencies identified by the Court in its September 6, 2018 Order. In particular, the amendments will address the following parts of the Order:

  • “The words ‘credit card,’ ‘debit card,’ and ‘ATM’ do not appear in any of the complaints, nor does any named plaintiff claim to have engaged in such transactions.”
  • “The expert declaration submitted in support of the TAC…contains no analysis of exchange rates for credit, debit or ATM transactions.”

The case, captioned Nypl v. JP Morgan Chase & Co. et al (1:15-cv-09300), was brought on behalf of a putative class of consumers and end-user businesses alleging 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.

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