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HSBC

Former HSBC head of currency trading Stuart Scott avoids extradition to US, where he faces 11 rigging charges

Scott and his former boss have been accused of making more than US$8 million profit on currency deals arranged for the oil and gas exploration company Cairn Energy

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 01 August, 2018, 3:32pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 01 August, 2018, 10:00pm

HSBC’s former head of currency trading has won a last-ditch battle to block his extradition to the US, where he faces 11 charges of foreign exchange rigging which each carry a maximum 30-year prison sentence.

Stuart Scott on Tuesday won an appeal in the High Court against his extradition. The charges in the US related to an alleged “front running” scheme in which he and his former boss have been accused of making more than US$8 million profit on currency deals arranged for the oil and gas exploration company Cairn Energy.

The court of appeal ruled that Scott, who is in his 40s and lives in Hertfordshire, should not be extradited because “most of the harm took place” in the UK and extradition was not in the interests of justice”.

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Scott had been charged alongside Mark Johnson, HSBC’s former head of global foreign exchange. Johnson, who is also British, was arrested at JFK airport in New York as he attempted to fly back to London in July 2016. Last year, he was found guilty of fraud and sentenced to two years in prison and fined US$300,000.

Lord Burnett, the lord chief justice, said a district judge who had allowed for Scott’s extradition had been mistaken and overturned the order.

After the ruling, Scott said he was very pleased but declined to speak further as the US government has indicated it planned to appeal. He denies all the charges.

It is the second high-profile extradition case in the UK to go against the US recently. In February, Lauri Love, a student accused of hacking US government websites, won his appeal against extradition. Burnett also made the ruling in that case.

In Johnson’s trial, US prosecutors used recordings of HSBC calls in an attempt to prove that he and Scott discussed how high the price of the pound could rise before the client would “squeal”. In one call Johnson told Scott: “I think we got away with it.”

In 2014, HSBC was one of six global banks fined a total of £2.6 billion (US$3.4 billion) by UK and US regulators for allowing a “free for all culture” in the £3.5 trillion-a-day foreign exchange market.

The Serious Fraud Office investigation into the allegations against Scott was dropped in 2016.