Finance News

Plaintiffs in Forex benchmark rate fixing case oppose DOJ’s request for another stay extension

The plaintiffs fail to understand how their deposition taking would interfere with the DOJ investigations.

A request by the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) to extend further a stay on planned deposition taking in a Forex benchmark rate fixing case has met the opposition of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit.

On June 12, 2018, the plaintiffs in a case targeting major banks like HSBC, Citi and JPMorgan, filed their letter of opposition with the New York Southern District Court. The plaintiffs – a putative class of consumers and end-user businesses, allege that they paid inflated foreign currency exchange rates caused by an alleged conspiracy among the defendant banks to fix prices of FX benchmark rates in violation of Section 1 of the Sherman Antitrust Act, 15 U.S.C. sec. 1 et seq.

For nearly two years, the plaintiffs have repeatedly asked the Court to allow them to take the deposition of certain former and current directors of major banks. But these requests have been blocked by requests by the Department of Justice to stay the deposition taking.

Now, the plaintiffs oppose the recent request by the Department of Justice, dated June 5, 2018, to once again extend the stay from prohibiting them from taking depositions for another 5-month period, in order to allow the stay to continue through the trial of the so-called “Forex mafia” or “FX Cartel”. The latter case targets former Forex traders Richard Usher, Rohan Ramchandani, and Christopher Ashton. In addition, however, the DOJ suggests that there may even be yet another stay in which the DOJ “believes that following the conclusion of the Usher trial, it may be in a position to narrow the stay further.”

The plaintiffs in the Forex benchmark rate fixing case argue that so far, the DOJ has not given any reasons as to why, how, or in what way the taking of these depositions would “interfere” with the DOJ investigations, except the conclusionary statement that they will.

The plaintiffs stress that they are an integral part of the Plea Agreements requiring the defendant banks to make restitution for their theft. The DOJ estimated that UBS alone was responsible for the $1.6 billion in losses to the victims. Restitution requires the defendants to re-pay the billions of dollars they stole. These depositions must be permitted to go forward, the plaintiffs argue, even if they “interfere” with the DOJ investigations, which they do not.

Finally, the plaintiffs say that in case there is an extension to the stay, it should only last three months as has been the Court’s practice, not five months, since the Usher defendants on whom the extension is predicated may plead guilty well before their October 1, 2018, trial date and the Court would then be able to re-visit the issue.

The case is captioned Nypl v. JP Morgan Chase & Co. et al (1:15-cv-09300).

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