BofA Said to Suspend Head of Spot Foreign Exchange

Bank of America Corp., the second-biggest U.S. lender, suspended a senior foreign-exchange dealer amid a probe into the alleged manipulation of currencies, a person with knowledge of the matter said.

Joseph Landes, the London-based head of spot foreign exchange for Europe, Middle East and Africa, has been put on leave while the bank investigates, said the person, asking not to be identified as the details are private. Landes, the first trader known to have been suspended by Bank of America in the investigation, didn’t respond to an e-mail or calls to his work phone or mobile. Lawrence Grayson, a Bank of America spokesman, declined to comment on the suspended employee.

Bank of America has said governments in North America, Europe and Asia are examining several participants including the company for conduct in foreign-exchange markets spanning several years. The Charlotte, North Carolina-based lender said it’s cooperating with inquiries.

At least 21 employees of global banks have been fired, suspended or put on leave since Bloomberg News first reported in June that dealers said they shared information about client orders to manipulate benchmark rates used in the $5.3 trillion-a-day currency market. No firms or traders have been accused of wrongdoing by government authorities.

‘The Cartel’

Regulators are examining whether bank traders communicated with dealers at other firms and timed trades to influence benchmarks and maximize profits. Some exchanged information on instant-message groups with names such as “The Cartel,” “The Bandits’ Club,” “One Team, One Dream” and “The Mafia.” Traders have been fired, suspended or put on leave by top currency-trading firms including Citigroup Inc., Barclays Plc and Deutsche Bank AG.

Other banks such as JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc are also curtailing use of chat rooms after regulators used them in investigations into the manipulation of benchmark interest rates and currencies. A dozen firms are reviewing millions of e-mails, instant messages and phone records of their foreign-exchange employees for evidence of potential manipulation, people with knowledge of those probes have said.

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