Three ex-traders to enter pleas in NY court over FX market manipulation charges

Maria Nikolova

All three defendants are citizens and residents of the United Kingdom, but have reached an agreement with the government to waive extradition and appear for arraignment this summer.

Richard Usher, Rohan Ramchandani, and Christopher Ashton – former major bank traders and defendants in the case captioned USA v. Usher et al (1:17-cr-00019), are set to appear at New York Southern District Court today.

As per an indictment from January this year, Richard Usher (former Head of G11 FX Trading-UK at an affiliate of The Royal Bank of Scotland plc, as well as 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) were charged with conspiring to fix prices and rig bids for US Dollars and Euros exchanged in the FX spot market.

Known as “the Cartel” or “the Mafia,” this group of traders is alleged to have participated in telephone calls and electronic messages, including conversations in a private electronic chat room, to carry out their conspiracy. The anticompetitive behavior includes colluding around the time of certain benchmark rates known as fixes, such as coordinating their orders and trading to manipulate the price of the currency pair by the time of the fix. In another case of collusion, the conspirators coordinated their orders and trading to manipulate the price of the currency pair, such as by refraining from entering orders or trading at certain times.

The charge in the indictment implies a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $1 million fine. The maximum fine may be higher – it may amount to twice the gain achieved from the crime or twice the loss suffered by victims if either amount is greater than $1 million.

In a letter sent to court in early June 2017, and seen by FinanceFeeds, Richard Usher, Rohan Ramchandani, Christopher Ashton confirm that they have agreed to voluntarily appear before the New York court on the charge brought against them by indictment in January of this year. “All three defendants are citizens and residents of the United Kingdom, but have reached an agreement with the government to waive extradition and appear for arraignment this summer”, the letter says.

Initial appearances and arraignment are set to be held on July 17, 2017 at 11:30 A.M.

Speaking to Bloomberg, lawyers for Ramchandani and Ashton have reiterated previous comments that their clients were innocent.

The January indictment against the trio came after 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 fix prices and rig bids for USD and EUR exchanged in the Forex spot market, and to pay criminal fines exceeding $2.5 billion.

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