HSBC’s former top trader and Head of Global FX Cash Trading Mark Johnson is reaching the end of a three-week trial in New York. Both prosecutors and his defense team are preparing closing remarks today with the global currency market eagerly awaiting an outcome.
The past three weeks have seen Johnson under siege for his damning statements surrounding a $3.5 billion Cairn Energy transaction. Johnson, a UK national, was originally apprehended at JFK airport last month. Prosecutors have been pinpointing a variety of circumstances and actions surrounding Johnson’s lead role in the trade, which saw the bank net nearly $8.0 million in illegal profits.
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The prosecution, including Brian Young, a justice department attorney, told jurors: “Trust your gut, trust your judgement, and trust your ability to know a scam when you see one.” The prosecution is highly confident of a conviction following mounting evidence against Johnson, per an FT report.
‘Hand in the cookie jar’
From the beginning of the trial, Johnson has faced an uphill battle after multiple testimonials were brought to light as evidence. Recorded conversations picked up code words to his fellow traders, including the phrase “my watch is off”, which ultimately triggered frenetic buying action from the traders.
Moroever, US prosecutors obtained a statement regarding the Cairn trade – that was like “f***ing Christmas”. Prosecutors also claimed that he discussed how high the currency prices could go with other traders before Cairn would later “squeal”.
Case shaping up as future litmus test
More important than the fate of Johnson is the precedent that could be set across the foreign exchange industry should a conviction be made. His case may serve as a barometer for future currency manipulation scandals, many of which are still ongoing. Finance Magnates will continue to update the story as it develops, with a verdict from the jury possible this week.