‘Cartel’ Trio Pleads Not Guilty to Rigging Forex Market

Updated on
  • Men are charged with conspiring to manipulate exchange rates
  • Traders flew from London after negotiating surrender with U.S.

Three former British currency traders voluntarily appeared in a U.S. court to deny that they conspired to rig the foreign-exchange market.

Former JPMorgan Chase & Co. trader Richard Usher, ex-Barclays Plc trader Chris Ashton and former Citigroup Inc. trader Rohan Ramchandani pleaded not guilty during a brief court hearing on Monday. They were released on $650,000 bond for Usher, $1 million for Ramchandani and $200,000 for Ashton. Their trial was set for June 4, 2018, in Manhattan federal court.

Richard Usher, right, leaves federal court on July 17.

Photographer: Mark Kauzlarich/Bloomberg

"Rohan Ramchandani has waived extradition and agreed to come to the United States voluntarily to contest the charge and clear his name," his lawyers at WilmerHale said in a statement.

The charges are the culmination of a global investigation started in 2013 into currency-market manipulation that saw seven banks pay about $10 billion in fines to authorities. The men became a focus of the probes over an electronic chat room, known as “the Cartel,” where they shared information. If convicted, they face up to 10 years in prison, according to prosecutors.

The appearance follows months of negotiations with prosecutors over the terms of their surrender, including permission for the men to return to the U.K. while they await trial.

Senior Positions

The three all held senior trading roles at their banks. Usher was JPMorgan’s chief currency dealer in London; Ramchandani was Citigroup Inc.’s former head of G-10 spot currency trading; and Ashton was the head of global voice spot trading at Barclays.

Rohan Ramchandani, center, leaves federal court on July 17.

Photographer: Mark Kauzlarich/Bloomberg

The trio has frequently pointed to a U.K. Serious Fraud Office decision in 2016 to close its investigation into the matter without filing charges as evidence that they did nothing wrong. U.S. prosecutors announced the charges days before President Donald Trump’s inauguration, after which priorities and personnel often change.

"Richard is a highly respected banker who worked in the London FX market for many years," Usher’s lawyers at White & Case said in a statement. "The U.S. authorities have indicted him in New York for actions he undertook entirely in London, and which the U.K. authorities concluded, after a thorough investigation, were legal."

Ashton’s lawyers didn’t immediately respond to an email seeking comment.

A number of British traders charged by the U.S. in similar manipulation scandals, including Libor, have also decided to stand trial without waging lengthy extradition fights. Former London Rabobank Groep traders Anthony Allen and Anthony Conti were convicted in 2015, but remain in the U.K. while the case is on appeal.

The case is U.S. v. Usher, 17-cr-00019, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).

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