- He was found guilty of conspiring with traders at other banks to rig currency trades as part of a broad U.S. probe into currency manipulation by the banking industry.
A former foreign exchange trader was sentenced on Sept. 16 to eight months in prison for conspiring with traders at other banks to rig currency trades. Akshay Aiyer, 37, who previously worked at JPMorgan Chase was also sentenced to two years supervised release and fined $150,000. The New York Post says “Aiyer’s case was part of a broad U.S. probe into currency manipulation by the banking industry.”
Aiyer was indicted in May 2018. The DOJ press release said he was charged with conspiring to fix prices and rig bids and offers in Central and Eastern European, Middle Eastern, and African (CEEMEA) currencies. “From 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 press release said.
They 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. This information was used to coordinate their live trading in CEEMEA currencies, including, at times, by certain traders refraining from trading against the others.
Before his Sept. 16 sentencing, Aiyer reportedly told the judge that “he had tried to conduct himself professionally,” and it was a “total shock” to be charged. “I recognize that I have no one to blame but myself,” new reports quoted him as saying. Aiyer’s lawyer Martin Klotz objected to the sentence, news reports said. Adding that Aiyer’s asthma heightened his risk of illness from COVID-19 in prison, Klotz said “it doesn’t seem fair” to single out Aiyer. He is among at least six people criminally charged in the Manhattan court in the currency probe. Two of those – former CEEMEA traders Jason Katz and Christopher Cummins – plead guilty on Jan. 4 and 12, 2017, respectively, the DOJ press release said.
In addition, three London-based traders — Rohan Ramchandani, Richard Usher,, and Christopher Ashton — were acquitted in Oct. 2018. Meanwhile, news reports say Ramchandani, who worked with Citigroup as a trader, won an unfair-dismissal claim against the bank in a ruling on Aug. 10. “The employment lawsuit was restarted after a federal jury in New York rejected U.S. charges that Ramchandani and two other senior traders at Barclays Plc and JPMorgan Chase & Co. rigged the market from 2007 to 2013 by coordinating trades and manipulating prices on the spot exchange rate for euros and U.S. dollars,” the Bloomberg report said.
Although it is unclear if Aiyer was on a work visa in the U.S., a Reuters report indicates that Aiyer, who grew up in Pune, India, came to the United States in 2002 to attend Vassar College.