Currency trader indicted in ongoing FX price manipulation probe

A former currency trader at a major U.S. bank has been indicted for an alleged role in a conspiracy to manipulate prices in the foreign currency exchange (FX) market, the inspector general’s office for the federal deposit insurer said Friday.

In a release, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC) Office of Inspector General said it partnered with the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and U.S. Attorneys offices to secure the one-count indictment of Akshay Aiyer, a former currency trader. The “major U.S. bank” with which Aiyer was affiliated was not identified in the release.

The release states that Aiyer was charged with conspiring to fix prices and rig bids and offers in Central and Eastern European, Middle Eastern, and African (CEEMEA) currencies, which were generally traded against the U.S. dollar and the euro. The indictment was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.

The DOJ said, in the release, that Aiyer’s indictment follows guilty pleas early last year of two former CEEMA traders. DOJ said that Jason Katz and Christopher Cummins pleaded guilty (on Jan. 4 and 12, 2017, respectively) to charges in connection with the same conspiracy in which Aiyer is alleged to have participated. Also, the DOJ said, on Jan. 10, 2017, Richard Usher, Rohan Ramchandani, and Christopher Ashton – former U.K-based traders for major banks – were indicted for conspiring to fix prices and rig bids for the euro-U.S. dollar currency pair. Trial is set in that matter for October 2018.

Also according to the release, the DOJ has charged six major banks in the ongoing investigation into antitrust and fraud crimes in the FX market over the last several years. DOJ said that:

  • Citicorp, JPMorgan Chase & Co., Barclays PLC, and The Royal Bank of Scotland PLC on May 20, 2015, pleaded guilty at the parent level and agreed to pay, collectively, more than $2.5 billion in criminal fines for their participation in an antitrust conspiracy to manipulate the price of the euro-U.S dollar currency pair.
  • Additionally, UBS AG pleaded guilty to manipulating the London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR) and other benchmark interest rates, and agreed to pay a $203 million criminal penalty after breaching its December 2012 non-prosecution agreement resolving the LIBOR investigation.
  • BNP Paribas USA, Inc., on Jan. 25 of this year pleaded guilty to violating the Sherman Act based on its participation in a CEEMEA-related conspiracy, and agreed to pay a $90 million fine.

Former Currency Trader Indicted for Participating in Antitrust Conspiracy