A former Barclays currency trader has admitted to conspiring to fix prices in the foreign exchange market and has pleaded guilty in an ongoing criminal investigation into the rigging of currency rates, as per a Bloomberg report.
Jason Katz appeared in court earlier this week where he admitted to conspiring with other bankers to manipulate emerging-market currency trades while working at three different financial institutions from 2007 to 2013. The Federal Reserve Board has also banned Katz from the banking industry.
Conspiracies such as this undermine the integrity of our financial markets.
Katz’s conviction comes as Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase, Barclays and Royal Bank of Scotland are due to be sentenced after pleading guilty in May 2015 to charges that their traders conspired to manipulate trading in US dollars and euros.
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Last July, Finance Magnates reported on a further currency-rigging investigation where former UBS trader Matthew Gardiner used electronic chat rooms to coordinate forex trading, facilitate manipulation of FX pricing benchmarks and engage in other unsafe and unsound practices. He was consequently banned from the industry by the Federal Reserve Board.
As a dealer of Central and Eastern European, Middle Eastern and African currencies, Katz conspired to manipulate prices through “non-bona fide trades,” coordinating the placement of bids and offers, and agreeing on currency prices quoted to specific customers.
Brent Snyder, a deputy assistant attorney general with the department’s antitrust division, commented: “These conspirators engaged in blatant collusion and succeeded in manipulating exchange rates for multiple currencies to their advantage. Conspiracies such as this undermine the integrity of our financial markets, and the Antitrust Division is committed to ensuring that they are pursued and punished.”
Katz’s was employed by Barclays at the same time as Chris Ashton, the former global head of spot trading. Ashton and a group of other traders are also being investigated over allegations that they participated in an electronic chatroom called ‘The Cartel’ where they conspired to rig currency prices.
Ashton was also banned from US banking by the Federal Reserve in August but it has not been ascertained whether Katz had any dealings with Ashton or other members of The Cartel.
Katz, meanwhile, has agreed to cooperate with the government’s investigation and the conspiracy charge that he has admitted to carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $1 million fine.