Ex-JPMorgan Trader Gets 8-Month Prison Term in FX-Rigging Case

A former foreign exchange trader at JPMorgan Chase & Co found guilty of rigging FX trades for his own benefit received eight months of prison time in the US after a judge denied his request to walk free.

Akshay Aiyer, who was convicted of one count of conspiracy by a jury in federal court in Manhattan, also sentenced to two years supervised release. Prosecutors had pushed for a sentence of at 46 months in prison. In addition to the prison sentence he was also fined $150,000.

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Aiyer, who lives in New York, is a native of India and came to the US two decades ago to attend Vassar College. He joined JPMorgan in 2006 and worked there for more than nine years as a foreign-exchange analyst and trader.

Akshay was indicted in May 2018 on a single count of conspiracy from October 2010 to July 2013. Prosecutors said he conspired in a wide-ranging currency manipulation by major banks to eliminate competition and boost their banks’ profit. The plot included fixing prices and rigging bids for African, European and Middle Eastern currencies, including the South African rand, the Russian ruble and the Turkish lira.

Prosecutors said Aiyer and his co-conspirators acted in concert to manipulate either price for bids, offers or spreads for currency spot trades. This included swapping clients’ positions, information and pricing of their orders through chat rooms, phone calls and text messages.

Akshay was accused of working with Jason Katz, who worked at Barclays and BNP Paribas, and Citigroup former trader Christopher Cummins. Both co-conspirators pleaded guilty in 2017 and agreed to cooperate with investigations.

Defendants are unfairly simplifying the market

“This extensive conspiracy represents a serious breach of trust with both his clients and the major multinational bank for whom he worked.  We appreciate the cooperation of our law enforcement partners, and we remain committed to investigate such unscrupulous crimes that impact the integrity of our banking sector,” said FDIC Inspector General Jay N. Lerner.

The decision comes after the men asked a US judge to dismiss the case against them, saying they did nothing wrong as their banks “weren’t always in direct competition.” Lawyers for three former FX traders also urged the jury to acquit their clients of all charges, rejecting the evidence presented by prosecutors and the testimony of former co-conspirators against them.

However, the court said that while competitors deal with each other in every market, the goal of the three men was to suppress and eliminate competition in trading emerging-market currencies.

The indictments against the trio came after US authorities faced criticism for not prosecuting any traders involved in the FX rigging scandal since it broke out in 2013, although they did impose multi-billion dollar fines against major banks.

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