Former FX trader at Barclays faces $1.2 million fine

FX trader created chat room to facilitate benchmark manipulation with traders at competitor banks.

A former foreign exchange (FX) trader at Barclays is facing a fine worth $1.2 million for using online chat rooms to manipulate FX benchmarks.

Christopher Ashton created a chat room with FX traders at competitor banks to share confidential and ‘commercially sensitive’ information on clients.

The Federal Reserve Board in the US found that chat room participants agreed to “coordinate their trading influence” and “manipulate the benchmark currency rates.”

In May 2015, Barclays fired Ashton following a suspension in November 2013, for his misconduct when trading FX.

The Federal Reserve Board said it is “assessing a civil monetary penalty against Ashton” worth $1.2 million and a permanent ban from his employment within the banking industry.

Ashton held several senior positions at Barclays, including head of London FX spot desk between 2011 and 2013, and then global head of the FX spot business.

The investigation follows the Federal Reserve Board’s enforcement actions against Barclays in 2015 for unsafe practices and compliance failures in relation to FX trading.

The Board ordered Barclays to pay $342 million in fines for “control deficiencies” in its FX trading business.