US govt and “Cartel” traders clash over case materials in Forex manipulation suit

Maria Nikolova

Former “Cartel” traders call case materials volume staggering: 1,400 hours of untranscribed audio recordings; 375,000 chats, emails, and attachments; and trading data from several banks comprising several tens of millions of transactions.

One of the most widely followed FX manipulation cases – that brought by the US government against Richard Usher, Rohan Ramchandani, and Christopher Ashton of the so-called “Cartel” or “Mafia”, has seen the plaintiffs and the defendants disagree over the so-called “bill of particulars”. The “bill of particulars” is a typical means to get information about a claim or defense. It represents a list of written questions from one party to another asking for details (particulars) about a claim or defense.

Earlier this month, the defendants sent a letter for such a bill of particulars, asking for a “a list of the trades, bids, and offers (and corresponding communications, e.g., call or chatroom passage on that day) that the government intends to rely upon at trial.”

The response from the US government was a bit stark. It argued that the law forbids Defendants from using a bill of particulars to “get a preview of the Government’s trial evidence or legal theories”. Instead, the government has committed to provide an early trial exhibit list, which will also specify the particular instances of alleged collusive trading and means of communication. The government has committed to providing this 60 to 90 days prior to trial.

The defendants did not agree with the government’s proposal and today addressed the New York Southern District Court, asking it to intervene.

“Our interest is simply to obtain the requested particulars as soon as possible, given the enormity of data in this case and the trial date”, the defendants argue in their letter, seen by FinanceFeeds.

The discovery produced thus far (with more to come) is seen as staggering in scope: 1,400 hours of untranscribed audio recordings; 375,000 chats, emails, and attachments; and trading data from several banks comprising many millions (and likely several tens of millions) of transactions.

The defendants also stress that the indictment fails to identify even a single allegedly criminal transaction. This way, according to the ex-traders, they are forced “to labor in mystery as to which trades – from a mass of literally millions – are allegedly criminal, until its production of trial exhibits 60 to 90 days before trial”.

In response to the letters from the plaintiffs and the defendants, the Court has ordered the parties to meet and confer on September 6, 2017.

The indictment from January this year charges 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) with conspiring to fix prices and rig bids for US Dollars and Euros in the FX spot market.

The ex-traders are alleged to have conspired through telephone calls and electronic messages, including conversations in a private electronic chat room. 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.

On July 17, 2017, the trio entered “not guilty” pleas.

The case is captioned USA v. Usher et al (1:17-cr-00019).

Read this next

Digital Assets

Germany-focused DekaBank taps METACO for digital asset custody offering

“Digital assets are a critical part of the future, a radical new way for how assets will be represented, from currencies to real estate.”


Eventus launches AML solution for TradFi and digital asset space

“Firms operating in traditional financial markets and digital assets alike are facing greater challenges than ever to protect themselves from those presenting a risk to their businesses and reputations, along with their standing with government regulators.”

Industry News

Qomply launches direct-to-FCA trade report solution that bypasses ARM

“Certainly, for back-reporting large volumes of data, QomplyDirect removes extra ARM fees by offering the flexibility of sending reports directly to the FCA via a firm’s own infrastructure.”

Executive Moves

BNP Paribas AM appoints Geoff Dailey as Deputy Head of US Equities

“Geoff has more than 20 years’ experience in the industry and as a key, senior member of the team with a strong investment pedigree and leadership profile, he is the natural successor for Pam.”

Retail FX

BUX joins forces with BlackRock for iShares ETFs offering in 7 European countries

“By joining forces with Blackrock, a renowned expert in financial markets and products, we have created a good solution for clients that are overwhelmed by the choice of products and don’t know how and when to start investing. Together, BUX and BlackRock can make a real impact on how Europeans invest and approach their financial future.”

Retail FX

CMC Invest gets in-principle approval to launch shares, ETFs, futures, and options in Singapore

“This announcement is a major milestone and validation for CMC Markets. Our business has been offering CFDs in Singapore since 2007, but the Capital Markets Services Licence for CMSI will allow us to serve our clients with more robust investment products, including shares and ETFs.”

Executive Moves

Eightcap hires ex-IG, ex-StoneX Alex Howard as CEO

“In my first weeks, the priority is to immerse myself in the business, including connecting with the global team, developing a nuanced understanding of strategy and operations, and listening to clients.”

Digital Assets

OneCoin founder Ruja Ignatova is selling penthouse in UK

OneCoin founder Ruja Ignatova, who steered one of the world’s biggest cryptocurrency frauds, is back into the spotlight more than five years after vanishing from the public eye.

Digital Assets

Bitpay taps MoonPay to offer access to +60 cryptocurrencies

Crypto payment service provider Bitpay said it’s partnering with exchange and web3 infrastructure provider MoonPay to provide its users with easier access to buy cryptocurrency instantly.