U.S. charges three traders in forex rigging probe

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By Nate Raymond | NEW YORK

NEW YORK The U.S. Justice Department on Tuesday
brought charges against three former traders at JPMorgan Chase &
Co, Citigroup Inc and Barclays Plc arising from a global probe into the manipulation of
foreign-exchange prices at major banks.

Richard Usher, formerly of JPMorgan, Rohan Ramchandani,
formerly of Citigroup, and Chris Ashton, formerly of Barclays,
were charged in an indictment filed in federal court in
Manhattan with conspiring to restrain trade.

The case came after JPMorgan, Barclays, the Royal Bank of
Scotland and a Citigroup unit pleaded guilty in May 2015
to conspiring to manipulate currency prices, agreeing at that
time to pay more than $2.5 billion in criminal fines.

Those plea deals contributed to the more than $10 billion
some of the biggest banks in the world have agreed to pay to
resolve U.S. and European probes into the manipulation of
foreign exchange rates.

The indictment said that from 2007 to 2013, Usher,
Ramchandani and Ashton participated with other euro-dollar
traders belonging to an electronic chat group called “The
Cartel” to suppress competition in the foreign currency exchange
spot market.

Usher, JPMorgan’s former chief currency trader, and
Ramchandani, Citigroup’s ex-head of European spot foreign
exchange trading, left both banks in 2014. Ashton, Barclays’
former global head of spot trading, was a trader at the British
bank until 2015.

The U.S. charges came after the UK Serious Fraud Office
(SFO) in March said it had closed its own investigation without
any individuals being charged, saying there was “insufficient
evidence for a realistic prospect of conviction.”

Lawyers for Ramchandani and Usher in statements criticized
the Justice Department’s decision to bring charges after the SFO
had decided not to do so.

“The UK authorities looked at the matter very carefully and
concluded that there were no offences, and we continue to
believe that Mr. Usher has done nothing wrong,” said Jonathan
Pickworth, a lawyer for Usher.

A lawyer for Ashton declined to comment.

To date, three other individuals have faced U.S. charges
stemming from the foreign exchange probe.

Last week, a former trader at Barclays and BNP Paribas SA
, Jason Katz, pleaded guilty to participating in a
price-fixing conspiracy, becoming the first person to admit
criminal wrongdoing in the probe.

In July, an HSBC Holdings Plc executive, Mark
Johnson, was arrested and charged along with a former executive
for participating in a fraudulent scheme involving a $3.5
billion currency transaction. Johnson has pleaded not
guilty.

The case is U.S. v. Usher et al, U.S. District Court,
Southern District of New York, No. 17-cr-19. (Reporting by Nate Raymond in New York; additional reporting by
Jamie McGeever in London)



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