May 10, 2018 / 7:51 PM / 2 months ago

UPDATE 2-Ex-forex trader indicted in U.S. over currency rigging

(New throughout, adds details about allegations, defendant, other traders; adds case citation and byline)

By Jonathan Stempel

NEW YORK, May 10 (Reuters) - A former foreign exchange trader was indicted on Thursday on a charge he conspired to rig trades, in connection with a broader probe into currency manipulation by major banks.

The indictment said Akshay Aiyer, who lives in New York, conspired from at least October 2010 to July 2013 to eliminate competition by fixing prices of and rigging bids for Central and Eastern European, Middle Eastern and African currencies. It was filed with the U.S. District Court in Manhattan.

Aiyer’s employer at the time was JPMorgan Chase & Co , a person familiar with the matter said. The indictment identifies the employer as “Bank A.”

A lawyer for Aiyer could not immediately be identified. JPMorgan declined to comment.

The conspiracy charge makes Aiyer at least the sixth person charged in Manhattan federal court in connection with the U.S. Department of Justice’s currency probe.

Barclays Plc, BNP Paribas SA, Citigroup Inc, JPMorgan, Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc and UBS Group AG have entered related guilty pleas, and been collectively fined more than $2.8 billion.

Aiyer faces a maximum 10-year prison term and possible $1 million fine.

According to the indictment, Aiyer worked from Bank A from roughly July 2006 to March 2015, starting as an analyst and rising to executive director.

He and his co-conspirators swapped trading positions, customer information and pricing of customer orders through chat rooms, phone calls and text messages, in an effort to coordinate their own trading and boost profit, the indictment said.

The co-conspirators included former traders Jason Katz, who worked at Barclays and BNP Paribas, and Christopher Cummins, who worked at Citigroup. Both pleaded guilty in January 2017 to conspiracy charges and agreed to cooperate with prosecutors.

Also that month, London-based traders Chris Ashton, Rohan Ramchandani and Richard Usher, who respectively worked at Barclays, Citigroup and JPMorgan, were criminally charged with conspiring to rig currencies.

They have pleaded not guilty and face a scheduled Oct. 1 trial.

The case is U.S. v. Aiyer, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 18-cr-00333. (Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Additional reporting by Brendan Pierson; Editing by David Gregorio, Marguerita Choy and Sandra Maler)

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