Individuals charged by DoJ
Although the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) closed its investigation into alleged manipulation of the foreign exchange market last March due of insufficient evidence, the US Department of Justice (DoJ) has now indicted three UK-based former forex traders for the same crime. In the latest development in a collusion investigation that in 2015 led to five banks pleading guilty to fixing foreign-currency prices, the DoJ has charged Richard Usher, Rohan Ramchandani and Christopher Ashton with conspiracy in an effort to fix prices and rig bids for the euro-US dollar rate.
According to the indictment, between December 2007 and January 2013, a group of traders, known as “the Cartel” or “the Mafia” in chatroom messages, “gained an unfair advantage on their counterparts by committing corporate fraud”. The Cartel was made up of four men but the fourth member, Matt Gardiner, has been co-operating with the DoJ, which said that the indictment reiterates its commitment to holding individuals accountable for corporate misconduct.
It is an interesting move, as the men’s defence is that at all material times, they worked in the UK for English banks and were investigated by the SFO for 18 months until the case was dropped. Now, for the case to be heard in the US, the men will either have to surrender willingly to the authorities or be extradited. When assessing extradition, judges here will need to be convinced that the allegations amounted to a crime in the UK as well and the SFO has already conducted a “detailed review of the available evidence”.
The forensic accountant’s review of the evidence will be key to this case, if it is ever heard. As in all forensic examinations, both sides will bring in experts to determine whether the individuals were guilty of misconduct.
Author: Roger Isaacs, 13 January 2017