US DOJ insists on stay of deposition-taking from top bank execs, traders in FX rate fixing case

Maria Nikolova

The Department argues that the stay on deposition-taking it had proposed protects the integrity of ongoing grand jury investigations and cases.

The progress of a Forex benchmark rate fixing case, targeting top banks such as Barclays PLC (LON:BARC), Royal Bank of Scotland Group plc (LON:RBS), Citigroup Inc (NYSE:C), HSBC, JP Morgan Chase & Co, and Bank of America Corporation, now hinges upon the pace of the discovery process, and deposition taking, in particular.

Whereas plaintiffs in the case, captioned Nypl v. JP Morgan Chase & Co. et al (1:15-cv-09300) have requested an expedite schedule for deposition taking from certain current and former senior executives of the banks involved, as well as from certain traders, the banks have opposed the motion. In addition, the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) has intervened by requesting a three-month extension to the stay of the discovery process with the stay to cover the deposition-taking requested by the plaintiffs.

Given the disagreement over the schedule and the discovery process, the Honorable Lorna G. Schofield of the New York Southern District Court had instructed the DOJ to file a Letter in response to the plaintiffs’ request for deposition-taking. Today, the DOJ submitted the Letter, which was seen by FinanceFeeds.

The Letter states that the Department opposes the plaintiffs’ request to depose traders who have pled guilty, as these individuals are cooperating with the Department’s ongoing grand jury investigations into the FX market.

The Department also opposes the plaintiffs’ request to depose the signatories to the May 2015 corporate resolutions that several of the Defendants entered with the Department. Those signatories are current or former employees of the seven Defendant banks to which the Department proposes that the stay apply.

The DOJ argues that the proposed stay protects the integrity of ongoing grand jury investigations and cases, and is fair to the plaintiffs, particularly at this relatively early stage of discovery in their civil case.

The plaintiffs had requested 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 plaintiffs insist 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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