The Justice Department of the United States (DoJ) announced on Wednesday that it has convicted a former currency trader at JPMorgan for participating in an antitrust conspiracy to manipulate prices for emerging market currencies, in order to boost his earnings.
The conviction of Akshay Aiyer, who joined JPMorgan in 2006 and worked there until 2015, first as a foreign exchange (forex) analyst and later as a trader, follows a three week trial in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York. In particular, the jury convicted Aiyer of conspiring to fix prices and rig bids in Central and Eastern European, Middle Eastern and African (CEEMEA) currencies.
These currencies were traded against the US dollar and euro, from at least October of 2010 until at least January of 2013, the statement from the agency said. Evidence presented at trial showed that Aiyer communicated with his co-conspirators via phone, text, and an electronic chat room to coordinate the trades in the forex spot market.
Commenting on the conviction, Assistant Attorney General Makan Delrahim of the Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division said: “Today, a jury of citizens held the defendant accountable for fixing prices and rigging bids for emerging market currencies traded in the United States and elsewhere.
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“This conviction serves as a reminder of our commitment to hold individuals responsible for their involvement in complex financial schemes which violate the integrity of the global financial markets.”
DoJ continues investigation into FX spot market collusion
The conviction of Aiyer is part of a larger investigation by the Antitrust Division looking into collusion in the FX spot market. As part of this, five companies and six individuals have been charged.
On March 20, 2015, four major banks pleaded guilty and agreed to collectively pay $2.5 billion in criminal fines. These banks were Citicorp, JPMorgan Chase & Co., Barclays PLC, and The Royal Bank of Scotland plc.
As Finance Magnates reported, in January of last year, BNP Paribas USA, Inc also pleaded guilty and was slapped with a $90 million fine in a settlement with the DoJ over its attempts to manipulate foreign exchange markets.