London forex trader sues Citigroup over 'malicious' forex prosecution

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By Kirstin Ridley

LONDON (Reuters) – A London-based former Citigroup (N:) trader is suing the U.S. bank for more than $112 million, alleging it made materially false and malicious statements to U.S. prosecutors that led to his trial in New York on foreign exchange-rigging charges.

Rohan Ramchandani, the former European head of Citigroup’s forex spot market trading desk, alleges in a lawsuit filed on Wednesday that Citigroup made false and “gravely derogatory” assertions against him to government investigators and the media after firing him in 2014 without cause.

“Ultimately, Citi quite literally fabricated an antitrust case for the United States Department of Justice against Ramchandani based upon knowingly false allegations that he engaged in market ‘manipulation’ and ‘collusion’,” read the complaint filed in the federal court in Manhattan.

A spokeswoman for Citigroup in London said the bank rejected the allegations and would fight the case.

“Mr. Ramchandani’s claims of malicious prosecution are without merit and we will contest them vigorously,” she said.

A New York jury last year cleared Ramchandani, alongside two other London-based currency traders, of scheming to rig benchmark exchange rates in the $5.3 trillion-per-day foreign exchange markets after just hours of deliberation.

The verdict was a blow for U.S. authorities, which alongside Britain’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) had fined some of the world’s most powerful banks — including Citigroup — a total of around $10 billion over the foreign exchange scandal.

The UK Serious Fraud Office (SFO) abandoned its own criminal investigation into currency rigging allegations in 2016, saying it lacked sufficient evidence for a successful prosecution.

Ramchandani alleges that a Citigroup lawyer, who is not named in the filings but who he said had “full knowledge” of the facts, had recognized that he had not engaged in intentional wrongful conduct or violated any law or regulation.

He also alleges his manager at Citigroup, an experienced forex spot market trader tasked with reviewing and evaluating Ramchandani’s communications, had volunteered that Ramchandani had not engaged in “collusion or price fixing” and there was “nothing criminal” in his intent or actions.

Citigroup only pleaded guilty in May 2015 to conspiring to manipulate currencies in order to pin the blame on Ramchandani and to limit the regulatory consequences for their senior managers and officers, the former trader alleged.

Ramchandani alleged that although he had been acquitted, Citigroup’s conduct had cost him tens of millions of dollars, damaged his reputation and ended his successful and well-paid professional career.

He is demanding a trial by jury.

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