Two former JPMorgan Chase & Co. traders accused in the U.S. of hiding more than $6.2 billion in losses in wrong-way derivatives bets aren’t entitled to evidence collected by the government because both men are “fugitives from justice,” the SEC said.
Javier Martin-Artajo and Julien Grout have failed to appear in the U.S. to face criminal charges and civil claims and shouldn’t be given access to evidence or allowed to question witnesses as part of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s case, Joseph Boryshansky, a lawyer for the agency, said in a memo filed Feb. 7 in Manhattan federal court.
“By avoiding the orders of this court in the criminal case, defendants have demonstrated disrespect for the legal process,” Boryshansky said in the memo to U.S. District Judge George Daniels, who is presiding over the SEC case.
Martin-Artajo, who now lives in Spain, oversaw trading strategy for the synthetic portfolio at the bank’s chief investment office in London. Grout was a trader who worked for him. Lawyers for Grout, who is a French citizen, have said he’s in France.
“Grout and Martin-Artajo are plainly fugitives because they have known since August 2013 of the pending criminal charges against them but have made no effort to return to the United States to face charges,” Boryshansky said.
Martin-Artajo and Grout were named in an indictment filed by Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara in September for engaging in a securities fraud to hide losses stemming from trades by Bruno Iksil, the Frenchman at the center of the case who became known as the London Whale.
The SEC alleged in a parallel suit that the two men engaged in a scheme to enhance the portfolio’s performance in order to curry favor with their supervisors.
Prosecutors also asked Daniels to delay the surrender of evidence in the SEC case.
At a hearing in the SEC case last month, Marc Weinstein, Grout’s lawyer, and William Leone, Martin-Artajo’s attorney, said their clients aren’t fugitives.
“It’s absolutely ridiculous that the government is asserting our client is a fugitive,” Edward Little, another lawyer for Grout, said in an interview today. “He moved back to France weeks before he was aware he might be indicted, as prosecutors and the SEC lawyers well know. And he has every right to defend himself.”
Leone didn’t return a voice-mail message left at his office seeking comment on the government’s claims.
The cases are SEC v. Martin-Artajo, 13-cv-05677, and U.S. v. Martin-Artajo, 13-cr-00707, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).