The US Department of Justice (DoJ) has announced it has brought an inductment against former JP Morgan EM FX trader Akshay Aiyer for his role in alleged FX market manipulation.
Aiyer is specifically charged with conspiring to fix prices and rig bids and offers in Central and Eastern European, Middle Eastern, and African (CEEMEA) currencies.
According to the indictment, from at least as early as October 2010 through at least July 2013, Aiyer, along with other New York-based CEEMEA traders working for rival banks, participated in a conspiracy designed to suppress competition in order to increase each trader’s profits and decrease each trader’s losses.
The DoJ alleges that Aiyer and his co-conspirators carried out this agreement by engaging in near-daily conversations through private electronic chat rooms, telephone calls, and text messages, in which they exchanged trading positions, confidential customer information, planned pricing for customer orders, and other categories of competitively sensitive information.
Aiyer and his co-conspirators then used this information to coordinate their live trading in CEEMEA currencies, including, at times, by certain traders refraining from trading against the others,” DoJ claims, adding that throughout the conspiracy, Aiyer and his co-conspirators took affirmative steps to conceal their anticompetitive behaviour.
“As today’s indictment demonstrates, the Antitrust Division remains committed to holding individuals accountable for anticompetitive conduct that violates the integrity of global financial markets,” says assistant attorney general Makan Delrahim of the Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division.
“Today’s indictment charges the defendant with illegally manipulating the foreign currency exchange market in order to boost earnings, squelch free-market competition, and then cover his tracks,” adds FDIC inspector general Jay Lerner. “This case represents a compelling example of coordination among law enforcement partners, and the FDIC OIG remains dedicated to investigate complex crimes which undermine the integrity of our markets and the financial services sector.”
The charge in the indictment carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $1 million fine. The maximum fine may be increased to twice the gain derived from the crime or twice the loss suffered by victims if either amount is greater than $1 million.
The latest indictment follows the guilty pleas, in January 2017, of former CEEMEA traders Jason Katzand Christopher Cummins, who were charged in connection with the same conspiracy in which Aiyer is alleged to have participated.