The investigation into the potential manipulation of foreign exchange markets just got real. Nearly a dozen traders have been put on leave while two more banks – Citigroup and J.P. Morgan – have acknowledged that they are cooperating with regulators over reports that traders may have colluded to rig FX benchmark rates.
Six Barclays’ traders and two from Royal Bank of Scotland have reportedly been suspended while the investigation continues. Chris Ashton, global head of voice spot trading at Barclays, was among those put on leave. Traders Jack Murray and Mark Clark from Barclays and Paul Nash and Julian Munson from RBS have also been suspended.
Sources told the Financial Times that the scandal has touched offices outside of London as well. An unknown number of traders from the two U.S. banks have also reportedly been suspended, although no names have been released.
While the number of suspended traders may sound small, a dozen is actually a huge figure considering the current makeup of FX markets. Each bank only has a select few human traders for major currencies. The number can be as small as six in some locations, according to the Wall Street Journal. One trader told the paper that the suspensions could affect the way the business functions, especially if they are lengthy.
The scandal is the latest to focus on potential collusion between bankers at different firms. Like with Libor, the evidence lays in the paper trail left in chat rooms and email exchanges. Bankers need to improve their morals, or at the very least stop documenting their shady behavior on searchable mediums.
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The Justice Department and other authorities have widened their probe into J.P. Morgan’s hiring practices in China. Some have alleged that the bank has hired the children of Chinese officials in an attempt to win business in Asia.
Nasdaq was forced to halt options trading on Friday due to an unknown technical problem. We’ve seen way too many of these occurrences in recent months.
The Commodity Futures Trading Commission is “absolutely undersized” and borderline broke, according to former enforcement chief David Meister, who stepped down last week. The Wall Street watchdog has shelved cases and held off on filing charges in recent months due to a lack of resources. The CFTC has 155 officials, compared to the more than 1,200 employed at the SEC.
Ziff Brothers Investments has decided to shutter its New York hedge fund operations, which currently employs between 300 and 400 people. Not all is lost though. The firm plans to host several smaller funds managed by current Ziff employees. Surely, some will be left out in the cold though.
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