Barclays & FX Manipulation

September 2, 2016

On 1 September 2016 the US Federal Reserve Bank banned and fined ($1.2 million) Christopher Ashton

[1].  He was banned and fined because he participated in manipulation of FX rates, worked with competitors to manipulate rates or have competitors not trade to ensure that the FX rate was fixed a certain way.  He worked at Barclays Bank in London between September 2006 and November 2013, including as Co-Head and Head of the FX Spot Desk in London and Global Head of the FX Spot business.The findings by the Federal Reserve are astonishing and quite stark.  The summary states as follows:

“The practices and breaches relate to manipulative and collusive trading in the foreign exchange (“FX”) spot market, including trading to manipulate FX currency benchmarks, engaging in trading practices detrimental to clients, coordinating with competitors concerning price spreads to quote customers, coordinating with competitors to refrain from certain types of trading in the market when another trader held an open risk position, and improperly disclosing confidential client information to competitors. In connection with the misconduct described herein, Ashton received a financial gain or other benefit and Barclays suffered financial loss or other damage.”

What is more surprising is that the UK’s regulator, the Financial Conduct Authority, did not fine or ban Mr Ashton.  Neither did they put out a press release about why they had not done so.  Indeed, Mr Ahton has previously taken the FCA to the Upper Tribunal because he alleged he could be identified in the FCA’s Final notice against Barclays [2].  What a mockery this man has made of the FCA.

As noted earlier on this website[3], the Treasury Select Committee has suggested that the FCA should be split and its enforcement unit should be set up as a standalone agency.  That is because the perceived relationship between the regulator and the banks seems far too bank friendly and the enforcement actions taken seem to equally be far too friendly to banks.  Once again we see the US regulating with a heavy hand the activities taking place in London.  Why has the UK regulator not taken steps – or at least issued a press release to explain why they have not also fined this man?

London is, and will continue to be, the centre of world banking.  There is a fine line between keeping London an attractive proposition to world banks whilst at the same time curtailing the greed and dishonesty that led to the 2007/08 banking crisis.  Much was done to investigate what went wrong, and the FSA, the then regulator, was split into two because it could not cope with the mandate it had.  Now we need the FCA to be split again.  The actions of Mr Ashton regarding FX manipulation were not unique.  He headed large teams at Barclays.  He worked with equally large teams at other banks in order to coordinate the manipulation.

We need the FCA to not only be curtailing actions like those taken by Mr Ashton but also to be seen to be doing so.  This fine by the US and its apparent lack of UK reciprocation really demonstrates why practitioners like Muldoon Briton have so little faith that the FCA will take genuine action in issues such as FX and GRG matters.

There are a number of potential areas for claims involving Foreign Exchange manipulation.  Please feel free to contact our Manchester Office to discuss.


[1] 1 September 2016 US Fed Res judgment.

[2] Ashton v Financial Conduct Authority [2016] UKUT 0005 (TCC)

[3] 15 August 2016 Muldoon Britton “FCA: Enforcement And The Future”

Get in Touch

With years of experience working in UK immigration and Litigation law, our advisors can help you understand the process and take the right steps toward obtaining your goals. Get in touch today.