Accused ex-Barclays trader was given no legal guidance by employer, lawyer says

Hayley Kirton
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The ex-Barclays trader was charged by the US authorities late last night (Source: Getty)

The lawyer for an ex-Barclays trader facing forex-fixing claims in the US has hit back at the trader's former employer for not giving him enough guidance on the law.

Chris Ashton was late last night charged by the US Department of Justice (DoJ) with conspiring to fix prices and rig bids in the foreign exchange market, alongside former JP Morgan trader Richard Usher and former Citigroup trader Rohan Ramchandani.

In a statement, Ashton's lawyer, Sara George of Stephenson Harwood, said:

At all material times Chris Ashton worked in England for an English Bank. He complied fully with what he understood to be the legal and compliance requirements of an English Bank.

He was never given any legal advice, guidance or instruction by Barclays in relation to US law.

Ashton, Usher and Ramchandani were all members of "The Cartel" chat group, which the prosecution claims the traders used on a regular basis to collude over US Dollar-euro pairing fixes.

In 2015, the US authorities handed out massive fines to JP Morgan, RBS, Citigroup and Barclays after they pleaded guilty to forex rigging charges. UBS, meanwhile, was granted immunity from prosecution in the forex case, although the lender's actions were found to be in breach of a preexisting non-prosecution agreement.

The UK's Serious Fraud Office (SFO) had opened its own probe, but dropped it last year, citing "insufficient evidence for a realistic prospect of conviction".

George added: "A detailed review of the evidence led the SFO to the conclusion that the alleged conduct, even if proven and taken at its highest, would not meet the evidential test required to mount a prosecution for an offence contrary to English law."

Jonathan Pickworth, partner at White & Case, who is representing Usher, added:

We are very disappointed that the Department of Justice has decided to indict Usher. The UK authorities reviewed this matter very carefully and concluded that there were no offences.

And, Stephen Pollard of WilmerHale, representing Ramchandani, remarked:

It is unacceptable for the American DoJ to by-pass the SFO decision and seek to prosecute conduct undertaken on British soil by British citizens where the British regulators have confirmed there was no criminal offence.

Barclays declined to comment.

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