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Ex-JPMorgan Trader Convicted of Forex Rigging Wins Bail Appeal

Dec. 2, 2020, 10:00 PM

Former JPMorgan Chase & Co. currency trader Akshay Aiyer, who was convicted of conspiring to rig foreign exchange rates, convinced a federal appeals court Wednesday to let him stay out on bail while he appeals the eight-month prison sentence he was set to start serving Dec. 4.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit extended Aiyer’s bail in a one-page order that didn’t contain any reasoning.

The decision overturned a ruling by Judge John G. Koeltl, who rejected Aiyer’s bail application last month. Although Aiyer was unlikely to flee, his failure “to raise a substantial question of law or fact for appeal” made it highly improbable he’ll succeed in overturning his conviction, the judge said Nov. 12.

Aiyer was found guilty in November 2019 after a three-week trial in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. Koeltl upheld the verdict in July in a 63-page ruling discussing Aiyer’s role in a scheme to manipulate foreign exchange markets through industry chatrooms and text messages.

Ample evidence supported the jury’s conclusion that Aiyer coordinated with other traders to fix the prices of Central and Eastern European, Middle Eastern, and “African emerging markets” currencies, the judge said at the time.

The allegations resembled those from a wave of class actions and enforcement suits targeting similar schemes involving some of the world’s top banks, which have paid more than $10 billion in penalties for currency-related misconduct in recent years.

In his ruling declining to extend bail, Koeltl said Aiyer’s arguments just rehashed his earlier challenge to the verdict, particularly his contention that the judge never explicitly determined whether Aiyer engaged in “per se” antitrust violations.

Koeltl also dismissed Aiyer’s “post-trial allegations of juror misconduct” with minimal discussion, saying he had looked into them and “determined that there was no basis to vacate the jury’s verdict.”

Nor was Koeltl convinced by the claim that Aiyer’s prison term would be “harsher than some other sentences because,” as a noncitizen, he’ll serve it at a privately run, for-profit facility, rather than one administered by the Bureau of Prisons.

In its order reversing that ruling Wednesday, the Second Circuit granted Aiyer’s bail application “on the terms previously set by the district court.”

Judges Denny Chin, Raymond J. Lohier Jr., and Robert J. Sack sat on the panel.

Aiyer is represented by Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP. The government is represented by Justice Department antitrust attorneys.

The case is United States v. Aiyer, 2d Cir., No. 20-3594, 12/2/20.

To contact the reporter on this story: Mike Leonard in Washington at mleonard@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Rob Tricchinelli at rtricchinelli@bloomberglaw.com; Steven Patrick at spatrick@bloomberglaw.com

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