Traders who called themselves “The Cartel” say they shouldn’t be prosecuted for rigging markets

It’s all a big misunderstanding, apparently

A former Barclays trader who was a member of an online chat room known as “The Cartel” is fighting back against claims he was involved in rigging foreign exchange markets.

Chat logs of conversations in the group - which was made up of traders from top banks in the UK including Citigroup, JP Morgan, UBS, RBS and Barclays - showed they colluded and boasted about rigging techniques.

This evidence was pivotal in the fines issued to major banks by the Financial Conduct Authority which totalled a huge £1.4bn, part of the $10bn in fines globally for rigging forex markets.

However, eight of the accused traders are fighting back in court, claiming authorities named them without fully investigating the details of the chat room.

They also claim investigators misinterpreted Cockney rhyming slang as proof of a code between the “Cartel” members.

In court, a lawyer for Chris Ashton, one of the traders, said: “For there to be public confidence, it is important that regulatory action is based on a sound evidential basis; here we have significant doubts that there was any proper investigation.

“It’s quite possible that the settlements — which have had such a disastrous effect on the reputation of the City of London — may simply have been based on a set of facts that simply did not exist.”

The traders are now being investigated for criminal wrongdoing by the Serious Fraud Office.

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