‘Cartel’ Traders Walk Free After Cleared in Forex Rigging Trial

The London-based trio allegedly created a chat group to manipulate the prices of currency exchange rates.

Following a lengthy trial, a US court dropped criminal complaints against three British traders accused of conspiring to rig the foreign exchange market, two years after the men were acquitted by a UK court.

The case against Richard Usher, formerly of JPMorgan Chase & Co., Rohan Ramchandani, who worked at Citigroup Inc., and Chris Ashton, a former Barclays Plc trader, was closed in a New York court Friday.

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The decision comes after the men asked a US judge to dismiss the case against them, saying they did nothing wrong as their banks “weren’t always in direct competition.” Lawyers for three former FX traders also urged the jury to acquit their clients of all charges, rejecting the evidence presented by prosecutors and the testimony of a Standard Chartered trader against them.

The London-based trio allegedly created a chat group that they named “the Cartel” to coordinate trading of US dollars and euros and manipulate the prices of the exchange rates.

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This is just banks contacting each other,” said Michael Kendall, the lawyer of JPMorgan trader Usher.

UK Also Dropped Charges

However, Assistant US. Attorney Carrie Ann Syme said the indictment actually accuses them of conspiring to restrain trade from the end of 2007 through the beginning of 2013. Syme said that while competitors deal with each other in every market, the goal of the three men was to suppress and eliminate competition in the trading of the euro and dollar in the US, UK, and Switzerland.

The indictments against the trio came after US authorities faced criticism for not prosecuting any traders involved in the FX rigging scandal since it broke out in 2013, although they did impose multi-billion dollar fines against major banks.

Back in March 2016, Britain’s Serious Fraud Office looked at the same evidence and decided not to bring charges, citing insufficient evidence for a realistic prospect of conviction.

Lawyers for the traders criticized the US for moving forward with the case, but the City traders agreed to voluntarily travel to New York to defend themselves and deny any wrongdoing.

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