JPMorgan “Cartel” FX Trader Stuck with Conspiracy Charges

Akshay Aiyer had his dismissal request denied for charges of bid-rigging and price-fixing conspiracy in the FX markets.

A former foreign exchange (forex) trader at JPMorgan has had his attempts to dismiss charges of bid-rigging and price-fixing conspiracy in the FX markets denied by a Manhatten federal judge on Monday.

According to legal news service Law360, the dismissal request from former trader Akshay Aiyer was denied by US District Judge John G. Koeltl because it was too early to exclude certain trading behaviors from the examination.

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Aiyer has been charged with conspiring to manipulate the markets for Central and Eastern European, Middle Eastern and African (EMEA) currencies between 2010 and 2013.

He was first charged last year in May for being involved in an alleged conspiracy among forex traders to coordinate their trading through a chatroom dubbed “the cartel” and rig the FX markets.

Some of the other accused traders opted to plead guilty. However, Aiyer is fighting the charges by arguing that the charge of rigging the FX markets lumps together multiple trading behaviors into a single conspiracy charge.

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He believes that instead, it should be analyzed through a different legal standard which the U.S. Department of Justice does not prosecute criminally.

“The defendant’s motion to dismiss the indictment based on duplicity is denied,” Judge Koeltl said, outlining that individual behaviors described in the indictment “don’t need to be standalone crimes or crimes at all” if the sum of the acts “effectuate the conspiracy.”

Criminal Complaints Dropped for Cartel Traders

As Finance Magnates reported in October last year, a US court dropped criminal complaints against three British traders accused of conspiring to rig the FX markets – Richard Usher, formerly of JPMorgan Chase & Co., Rohan Ramchandani, who worked at Citigroup Inc., and Chris Ashton, a former Barclays Plc trader.

The case was closed two years after a United Kingdom court acquited the men. The case in the US alleged that 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.

However, the case was dropped 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.”

In the United States, the five firms have been collectively fined more than $2.8 billion as Barclays, BNP Paribas, Citigroup, JPMorgan, Royal Bank of Scotland and UBS all entered into related guilty pleas.

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