US authorities want to extend discovery stay in Forex benchmark rate fixing case

Maria Nikolova

The Department of Justice requests a further three-month extension to the stay of certain depositions and interviews.

The United States authorities are once again seeking a discovery stay extension in the Forex benchmark rate fixing case targeting major banks like HSBC, Citi and JPMorgan. After the preceding request for such a stay was granted in June this year, the Department of Justice (DOJ) now wants a three-month extension. The relevant documents were filed earlier today with the New York Southern District Court.

In the document, the United States Department of Justice, through the Antitrust Division and the Fraud Section of the Criminal Division, submits that the stay is necessary given the upcoming trials, both scheduled and anticipated, in several FX-related cases:

  • Trial in United States v. Usher, et al., 17-cr-19, is scheduled to begin on October 9, 2018, before Judge Berman in this Court.
  • United States v. Bogucki, 18-cr-21, is set for trial before Judge Breyer of the Northern District of California on February 4, 2019.
  • United States v. Aiyer, 18-cr-333, is scheduled for a status conference before Judge Koeltl in this Court on October 17, 2018. The Department expects that the remainder of the calendar, including the trial date, will be set at or shortly after the status conference.
  • In the case of United States v. Stuart Scott, 16-cr-457, pending in the Eastern District of New York, the U.K. Crown Prosecution Service, acting on behalf of the United States, has begun the process of appealing an order of the U.K. High Court of Justice, which effectively denied the United States’ request for extradition.

Let’s recall that the first case mentioned – United States v. Usher, targets Richard Usher, Rohan Ramchandani, and Christopher Ashton, also known as FX Cartel or FX Mafia. Usher is former Head of G11 FX Trading-UK at an affiliate of Royal Bank of Scotland plc, as well as former Managing Director at an affiliate of JPMorgan Chase & Co. Ramchandani is a former Managing Director and head of G10 FX spot trading at an affiliate of Citicorp, whereas Ashton is former Head of Spot FX at an affiliate of Barclays PLC. The Indictment charges that the ex-traders entered into an illegal agreement to suppress and eliminate competition for the purchase and sale of Euros and Dollars in the Foreign Exchange market in violation of the Sherman Act, Section 1. The defendants each deny the charge in the Indictment.

The case at hand targets major banks like HSBC, Citi and JPMorgan. Under the terms of the stay granted in June, depositions and interviews of current and former employees of Citibank, JPMorgan Chase, Barclays, RBS, UBS, BNP Paribas, and HSBC, are stayed. Individuals who worked for any of the above-referenced seven banks only prior to the beginning of the class period (December 2007), however, may be deposed. For the avoidance of any doubt, this term of the proposed stay would bar, during the pendency of the stay, depositions of signatories to the May 2015 corporate plea agreements, which plaintiff counsel in the NYPL case has proposed to take.

The Department argues that the scope of the stay appropriately balances the need to protect the integrity of ongoing cases with the plaintiffs’ desire for testimonial discovery at this juncture of the civil cases.

The plaintiffs in the NYPL matter (15-cv-9300) have indicated that they would oppose the DOJ’s request.

This action is brought on behalf of a putative class of consumers and end-user businesses alleging that they paid inflated foreign currency exchange 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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