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US arrests British traders over forex manipulation

© AFP/File | former foreign exchange traders from mahor banks, including JP Morgan Chase, have surrendered to US authorities

WASHINGTON (AFP) - 

Three British former foreign exchange traders for major banks have surrendered to US authorities to face criminal charges of market manipulation, the Justice Department announced Monday.

The men were traders for affiliates of JP Morgan Chase, Barclays, Citicorp and the Royal Bank of Scotland and appeared Monday before a federal judge in New York.

Richard Usher, Rohan Ramchandani and Christopher Ashton face a single-count indictment charging that they conspired to fix prices and rig bids for dollars and euros traded on the foreign exchange spot market.

Prosecutors claim that between December 2007 and January 2013, the trio and other unnamed co-conspirators, dubbed "the Cartel" or "the Mafia," used internet chatrooms and near-daily phone calls to conspire in fixing prices.

The conspirators allegedly also helped control prices "by refraining from entering bids/offers or trading at certain times," the Justice Department said in a statement.

US officials have taken aggressive action in recent years to prosecute interest rate and foreign exchange rate manipulation by major banks.

The banks affiliated with the former traders settled with the Justice Department in 2015, together agreeing to pay more than $2.5 billion in fines over foreign exchange manipulation.

The charges carry a maximum penalty of a $1 million fine and 10 years in prison. The fine can be increased to twice the damage suffered by victims or twice the gain derived from the crime, according to the department.

Earlier on Monday, the Federal Reserve fined French giant BNP Paribas $246 million, also over foreign exchange practices.

© 2017 AFP