Richard Usher, the former top JPMorgan Chase foreign exchange trader in London, announced today that the U.S. Office of the Comptroller of the Currency ("OCC"), the U.S. national bank regulator, has unilaterally moved to dismiss all charges against him in the OCC’s civil monetary penalty case. The case ends the last chapter of the U.S. government’s cases against Mr. Usher with his complete exoneration.
The OCC case involved spot FX trading in the EUR-USD currency pair and the communications among London traders in the inter-dealer marketplace, including conversations that occurred in Bloomberg chatrooms. The underlying events occurred from 2007-2012.
The OCC moved late yesterday to dismiss with prejudice its charges against Mr. Usher after the close of fact discovery and in the waning days of the expert discovery phase of the case, after all of the OCC's expert witnesses had been deposed.
The OCC announced its civil charges in January 2017 against Mr. Usher at the same time as the Antitrust Division's parallel indictment of Mr. Usher and two other spot FX traders. The Antitrust Division’s criminal Sherman Act antitrust charge was the subject of a three-week jury trial in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. In October 2018, the New York City jury acquitted Mr. Usher and his co-defendants of the Sherman Act charge. The evidence at trial demonstrated that the chatroom conversations, far from being collusive, were highly competitive trading among counterparties and involved buy-sell transactions known as "matching" among spot FX traders. The OCC proceeding was stayed during the Antitrust Division criminal case.
Despite the jury exoneration, the OCC enforcement staff elected to press its civil claims in an administrative proceeding before an Administrative Law Judge. In August 2020, the OCC dropped its claims that Mr. Usher had violated the civil side of the Sherman Act, or any other law. But the OCC continued to pursue claims of improper coordination – based on the same facts as in the antitrust case – which it characterized as “unsafe and unsound practice” and a breach of fiduciary duty under US banking laws.
When discovery this year revealed additional evidence that the practices were widespread market customs and involved procompetitive matching, risk-reducing behavior for the banks and legitimate market color, the OCC moved Administrative Law Judge Jennifer Whang to dismiss all charges with prejudice. The dismissal would end all U.S. proceedings against Mr. Usher with complete vindication.
White & Case partner, Michael Kendall, who led the matter, added: "We are delighted that the OCC has acknowledged that Richard earned his success the proper way, and is entitled to complete vindication. This result is a testament to the strength of our case, in terms of both the evidence and the law. It was heartwarming to see how many fact witnesses testified in favor of Richard and none against."
"This is yet another resounding victory for Mr. Usher," said the chair of White & Case’s Antitrust Practice, J. Mark Gidley, who co-led the matter. "After many years of defending his conduct before a U.S. jury and now these extensive administrative proceedings, we are grateful that the OCC has moved unilaterally to dismiss all of its charges against Mr. Usher. This will end the U.S. Government’s wrongful attacks against him."
The White & Case team for Mr. Usher in the OCC case and in the criminal antitrust case was led by Michael Kendall (Boston) and J. Mark Gidley (Washington, DC); the team also included associates Kelly Newman, Alexandra Gliga, Sam Feldman (all in Boston), Claire Marsden (Washington, DC), and Margot Davies (London). Mr. Usher is represented in London by Jonathan Pickworth and Rebecca Copcutt of Paul Hastings (London).
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