US govt chooses not to provide all trading details in FX manipulation case

Maria Nikolova

In a letter to Judge Berman, the US government argues that “the trading itself was not the crime nor is it an element of the charged crime. The trading is evidence that the crime occurred”.

The conflict over evidentiary details in the case brought by the United States Government against three members of the so-called “FX Cartel” or “FX Mafia” continues. It has been apparent that neither of the parties in the case, captioned USA v. Usher et al (1:17-cr-00019), is eager to go through the huge amount of data associated with the allegedly collusive trading that went on for nearly five years.

The Defendants in this case: Richard Usher, Rohan Ramchandani, and Christopher Ashton, are accused of having conspired to manipulate the FX market by “coordinating their bidding, offering, and trading” at “certain times.”

In a letter to Judge Berman at the New York Southern District Court, dated September 12, 2017, the US Government stated its arguments not to provide trading data detail on any particular episode of collusive trading alleged to have occurred during the five-year period of the conspiracy. The letter is in response to Defendants’ request from last week about such details being included in a bill of particulars.

The US Government requests the Court to reject the Defendants’ requests for a bill of particulars and for the Government to provide specificity for all of the many thousands of episodes of collusive trading that took place during the entire five-year run of the conspiracy, whether or not those episodes will be discussed at trial, as well as for the Government to provide the specifics on a much earlier timetable.

A bill of particulars is seen as unwarranted by the Government because the Indictment provides factual background and a clear statement of the alleged collusive agreement.

The Government alleges that the conspirators carried out that agreement, in part, by coordinating their currency trading. However, it adds that: “the trading itself was not the crime nor is it an element of the charged crime”.

“The trading is evidence that the crime occurred, just as chat transcripts, emails, and recorded phone calls are”.

Even with no trading data, the combination of witness testimony, chat transcripts, emails, internal bank documents, and recorded phone calls should be sufficient, according to the Government, as evidence that the collusive agreement existed and trading in conformance therewith occurred.

“The Government chooses not to provide trading data detail on any particular episode of collusive trading”, the letter says.

The Government also notes the hefty volume of data in question. The alleged conspiracy in this case lasted approximately five years, during which the conspirators communicated together in an online chat room nearly all day, every day. The Government says it has not catalogued, and does not intend to catalogue, each of those thousands of collusive trading episodes. The Government adds that it will need to identify a small subset of representative episodes to be tried.

“Requiring the Government to specify “the episodes” (which is the same as “all episodes”) of collusive trading would likely take many months if not years to accomplish, to no one’s benefit”.

The Government argues that the timetable suggested by the Defendants is unachievable. In exchange, it proposes that:

  • Within two weeks of the Court’s Order, the Government will identify no more than 200 episodes involving alleged coordination of trading between the co-conspirators for potential use in the case-in-chief at trial. For each episode, the list will provide the date, Bates number of the associated chat or phone call that describes the episode, and the approximate time of each episode.
  • The Government will provide two updates to this list, on November 3, 2017, and December 15, 2017.
  • The Parties will exchange initial trial exhibit lists for case-in-chief evidence, either two weeks after the Court provides its opinion and order on dispositive motions or March 1, 2018, whichever is earlier, and final trial exhibit lists for case-in-chief evidence on May 3, 2018.

The trial is scheduled for June 4, 2018.

Usher, 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, former Managing Director and head of G10 FX spot trading at an affiliate of Citicorp, and Ashton, former Head of Spot FX at an affiliate of Barclays PLC, have pleaded not guilty.

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