US Govt pushes for prison sentence for ex-JPMorgan FX trader

Maria Nikolova

Akshay Aiyer has expressed no remorse or regret for his conduct and the effect it had on his customers and counterparties, the US Government argues in its sentencing submission.

Shortly after Akshay Aiyer, former currency trader at JPMorgan convicted for his participation in an antitrust conspiracy to manipulate prices for emerging market currencies in the Forex market, asked for a non-custodial sentence in his case, the United States Government has filed a sentencing submission with the New York Southern District Court.

The document, submitted at the Court on April 17, 2020, and seen by FinanceFeeds, calls for a prison sentence for Aiyer.

Let’s recall that, in November 2019, a jury found Akshay Aiyer guilty of knowingly entering into and participating in a conspiracy to fix prices and rig bids of currencies from Central and Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and Africa (CEEMEA currencies). He was found to have conspired with Christopher Cummins, Jason Katz, and Nicholas Williams to manipulate the FX market. They rigged bids to customers and coordinated their trading in the interdealer market to push price in their favor, and to the disadvantage of others in the market. The list of those affected includes pension funds, college savings funds, foundations, mutual funds, and retirement accounts.

The United States Probation Office calculates the total offense level to be 21 and Aiyer’s Criminal History Category to be I. This results in a Guidelines sentence of 37–46 months of imprisonment, 1–3 years of supervised release, a fine of $20,000–$1,000,000, and a mandatory special assessment of $100. Because the applicable Guidelines range is in Zone D of the Sentencing Table, the defendant is ineligible for probation. The Government agrees with the Guidelines calculations.

In accordance with the Guidelines, the Court should impose a term of imprisonment of 37 to 46 months, a significant fine, and a mandatory special assessment, the Government says.

In arguing in favor of the proposed sentence, the Government notes that by the age of 30, Aiyer was a millionaire with a lucrative finance job and a vacation home in Martha’s Vineyard – but that was not enough.

“Defendant’s greed and arrogance drove him to cheat others in order to make even more money for himself. To date, Defendant has expressed no remorse or regret for his conduct and the effect it had on his customers and counterparties”, the Government says.

“Indeed, neither in his lengthy submission nor in the letters attached thereto is there any indication that Defendant has acknowledged that he made any mistakes as a trader”, the Government stresses.

A term of imprisonment is seen by the Government as the appropriate way to hold Aiyer accountable for his criminal conduct and disregard for the rule of law. It is also seen as a way to serve to deter other traders driven by greed who may be tempted to cheat the system and follow in his footsteps. According to the Government, in order to hold the defendant fully accountable for his conduct, his sentence should also take into account his conduct related to fake trades and spoofing. This conduct demonstrates the nature of the relationship between defendant and his co-conspirators, as well as his knowledge of, intent to effect, the object of the conspiracy.

The Government is not seeking restitution from Aiyer himself. This is not because no one was injured by his crime or that restitution is unimportant but because the government believes that victims of the defendant’s conduct will be fairly compensated elsewhere, through civil causes of action against the employer banks. In addition, calculation of restitution would be impracticable and would impose a burden on the government and the Court, which would unnecessarily prolong sentencing.

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