Senior currency dealers put on leave amid probe

PUBLISHED : Friday, 01 November, 2013, 3:23am
UPDATED : Friday, 01 November, 2013, 3:31am

Citigroup and JPMorgan Chase are putting their top London currency dealers on leave after regulators probing the manipulation of foreign exchange rates started investigating the traders' use of an instant-message group, three people with knowledge of the moves said.

Rohan Ramchandani, Citigroup's head of European spot trading, was told on Wednesday that he would be placed on leave, said one of the people who asked not to be identified. Richard Usher, JPMorgan's chief dealer in London, went on leave two weeks ago, said another person. Both were taking leave by mutual agreement with their employers and neither had been suspended, the people said.

Standard Chartered had placed Matt Gardiner, its assistant chief dealer in London, on leave, a fourth person said.

None of the traders has been accused of any wrongdoing.

Regulators were focusing on an instant-message group the traders set up to share information about their positions and client orders over at least three years, four people with knowledge of the probe said.

The roster of banks in the group changed as the men moved firms and also included Barclays, Royal Bank of Scotland and UBS, three people with knowledge of the communications said.

Investigators were weighing whether the messages amounted to attempts to manipulate the market, two people said.

The five firms account for about 47 per cent of the US$5.3 trillion-a-day foreign exchange market, a survey by Euromoney Institutional Investor shows.

Two other traders, who were not part of the conversations but asked not to be identified, said they and others in the market referred to the message group as "The Cartel".

Ramchandani referred calls to Citigroup's press office, while Usher did not respond to requests for comment. Gardiner, who had worked at Barclays and UBS and moved to Standard Chartered in September, did not respond to a message. RBS, UBS and Barclays declined to comment, as did JPMorgan and Citigroup.

RBS, Usher's employer before he joined JPMorgan in 2010, handed over his communications to regulators after concluding that he shared too much information about his positions, two people said.