Ex-Barclays FX Trader Urges Court to Toss HP Front-Running Charges

Prosecutors allege Bogucki placed trades ahead of HP sales to depress the price of the company’s options.

A former Barclays Plc FX trader accused of defrauding Hewlett-Packard asked a US judge to dismiss the case against him, saying he did nothing wrong as the UK bank “had no a fiduciary duty to HP.”

The indictment accuses Robert Bogucki, who was head of Barclays’ FX desk in New York in 2011, of conspiring and wire fraud for his conduct when Hewlett-Packard’s hired his bank as a financial adviser for its acquisition of Autonomy Corp. As part of its planned $11 billion acquisition, HP purchased options to buy 6 billion pounds to protect itself against adverse moves in currency markets and to comply with regulations requiring access to a reserve to complete the transaction.

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Prosecutors allege Bogucki, and other unnamed Barclays bankers misled HP employees when the company sought to sell its cable options in September 2011 in an attempt to maximize the bank’s profit from the currency transaction.

Specifically, they placed trades ahead of Hewlett-Packard’s sales to depress the price of the company’s options using a practice known as “front-running.”

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“The scheme led HP to lose millions of dollars in the value of the cable options it had originally purchased and enabled Barclays to make millions of dollars by acquiring the options from HP at a discounted and favorable price,” according to the indictment.

Similar cases against HSBC traders

In a court filing this week, Bogucki’s lawyers accused the government of basing their claims on a false premise that the UK bank had a fiduciary duty to HP as its client in the options trade. They also argue that prosecutors misled the court since Barclays and HP are “highly sophisticated institutions, acting as counterparties in complex, risk-shifting financial transactions.”

“The government’s case against Robert Bogucki depends on the purported existence of a fiduciary duty that Mr Bogucki supposedly owed to Hewlett-Packard. This alleged duty, however, is invented out of whole cloth,” they said in the motion.

The indictment was the latest to be brought against FX traders at a major international bank in the United States. A former HSBC executive Mark Johnson was found guilty last year of defrauding Cairn Energy Plc in a $3.5 billion currency trade in 2011.

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