(Updates with RBS traders in fifth paragraph.)
Nov. 1 (Bloomberg) -- Barclays Plc has suspended three currency traders, including a chief dealer in London, amid a probe into potential foreign-exchange manipulation, according to a person with knowledge of the decision.
Chris Ashton, who was identified as global head of voice spot trading in a Barclays e-mail last month, and spot currency traders Jack Murray and Mark Clark were suspended, said the person, who asked not to be identified because they aren’t authorized to speak publicly about the matter. None of the three has been accused of any wrongdoing, said the person.
Ashton didn’t respond to messages left on his work or mobile telephones, and didn’t reply to an e-mail seeking comment. Murray and Clark didn’t return messages left on their work telephones or reply to e-mails. Barclays, one of the four biggest currency traders in the world, is reviewing trading over a several years and is cooperating with regulators’ requests for information, according to a statement.
Regulators in the U.K., Switzerland, the U.S. and Asia are probing the $5.3 trillion-a-day foreign-exchange market after Bloomberg News reported in June that dealers in the industry said they had been front-running client orders and attempting to rig the benchmark WM/Reuters rates by colluding with counterparts and pushing through trades before and during the 60-second windows when the benchmarks are set. Firms across the industry and regulators have been reviewing records of instant messages, e-mails, phone calls and trading data.
Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc, Britain’s biggest publicly owned bank, has suspended London-based foreign exchange traders Paul Nash and Julian Munson as part of its internal investigation, a person with knowledge of the matter said today. Neither could be reached at their office numbers or replied to e-mails seeking comment. Neither has been accused of any wrongdoing, the person said.
“We will come down very severely on anyone who we discover is breaking the rules,” RBS Chief Executive Officer Ross McEwan, 56, told reporters on a conference call today. He declined to comment on the suspended traders.
In London, three of the most senior traders in the industry have been put on leave. Citigroup Inc.’s head of European spot trading, Rohan Ramchandani, was told this week he will be placed on leave while Richard Usher, a former RBS trader who became JPMorgan Chase & Co.’s chief dealer in London, went on leave two weeks ago, people with knowledge of the investigations have said. Standard Chartered Plc has also placed Matt Gardiner, its assistant chief dealer in the U.K. capital, on leave, another person said.
Both Citigroup and JPMorgan said in statements today they’re cooperating with government agencies in the U.S. and elsewhere probing the currency markets.
In Europe, Deutsche Bank AG said this week it’s cooperating with regulators, while Switzerland’s UBS AG said Oct. 29 it’s taking measures against employees. The Zurich-based firm didn’t identify or quantify the number of employees involved, or say what actions it took.
Four banks account for more than half of the foreign- exchange market, according to a May survey by Euromoney Institutional Investor Plc. Deutsche Bank is No. 1 with a 15 percent share, followed by Citigroup with almost 15 percent and Barclays and Switzerland’s UBS, which both have 10 percent.
--With reporting by Liam Vaughan in London. Editors: Edward Evans, Simone Meier