Ex-Barclays trader pleads guilty to price fixing conspiracy

Jason Katz is first to plead guilty to charges brought forward by the Justice Department.

A former trader has admitted conspiring to rig prices in the FX market and has been permanently banned from working in the industry, the Justice Department announced this week.

Jason Katz - who was a trader at Barclays and BNP Paribas - was found to have supressed competition by fixing prices in Central and Eastern European, Middle Eastern and African (CEEMEA) currencies.

Katz - alongside other ‘co-conspirators’ - created non-bona fide trades, coordinated bids and agreed on currency prices to quote clients on FX desks in New York at three large institutions.

Deputy assistant attorney general, Brent Snyder, of the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division, explained those involved engaged in “blatant collusion and succeeded in manipulating currencies to their advantage.”

Katz is the first to plead guilty and the third individual to be charged as a result of the Justice Department’s investigation.

In May 2015, Citi, JP Morgan, Barclays and the Royal Bank of Scotland pleaded guilty to FX price rigging and agreed to pay a combined fine of $2.5 billion.

Attorney general Eric Schneiderman slammed Barclays in August last year following an investigation into Libor manipulation, which led to a $100 million settlement.

Schneiderman hit out at Barclays, saying: “There has to be one set rules for everyone, no matter how rich or how powerful.”

He added: “And that includes big banks and other financial institutions that engage in fraud or impair the fair functioning of financial markets.”