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DOJ Charges UK-based Traders For Forex Currency Rigging

Three former traders from the UK have been charged by American officials for conspiracy under an ongoing probe into the largescale foreign exchange rate rigging scam that occurred between 2007 and 2013.

The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) brought criminal charges earlier this week against the three operatives who allegedly manipulated the rates of the U.S. dollar and euros. The traders were a part of an online chat room named ‘the Cartel’ that was used for coordinating trades between and for fixing dollar-euro rates.

In a statement Sally Yates said Deputy Attorney General

Whether a crime is committed on the street corner or in the corner office, no one gets a free pass simply because they were working for a corporation when they broke the law. Today’s indictment reiterates our commitment to holding individuals accountable for corporate misconduct.

PBS NewsHour

The three traders charged are: Chris Ashton, former global head of spot trading at Barclays, Rohan Ramchandani, formerly of Citigroup, Richard Usher a former JP Morgan dealer. Charges will be filed in New York. Another member of chatroom Matt Gardiner, who was working for UBS then, is said to be assisting the DOJ in the investigation.The Cartel chatroom was said to have been used extensively by these traders to regularly discuss beforehand their customer’s orders and trades.

Paul Abbate of the FBI’s Washington Field Office stated that these executives had gained an unfair advantage in trading by manipulating the foreign exchange rates which amounted to corporate fraud and impacted trading transactions worldwide.

The charges carry a maximum penalty of 10 years and a fine of $1 million. The fine can be increased to either twice the amount of loss suffered by victims or twice the amount of gain derived from the illegal transactions. Since the three are based in UK, they would either need to voluntarily go to U.S. or will need to be extradited. The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency has fined Usher and Ramchandani $5 million each and has banned them from working in the U.S. banking industry.

In May 2015, four banks Barclays, JP Morgan, Citigroup, and Royal Bank of Scotland pleaded guilty to charges of conspiring foreign exchange rate rigging and agreed to pay fines totalling $2.5 billion. A Connecticut judge who ruled against the banks recently urged prosecutors to go after individuals involved.

The latest attempt to prosecute individuals for price fixing follows the guilty plea from the erstwhile Barclays trader Jason Katz, becoming the first individual to accept his role in the scam.

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