The US Department of Justice is set to visit London and interview a group of current and former traders at banking giant HSBC, as part of an ongoing criminal investigation into allegations of currency market manipulation.
According to sources cited by Reuters, US prosecutors are set to touchdown on British soil within the next few weeks and will use the time to gather evidence, to determine whether to file criminal charges against individual bankers.
The sources made it clear that the interviews may not lead to any criminal charges against individual bankers or lenders.
The DoJ and HSBC declined the comment.
On 13 November, the UK's Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) fined five banks - Citibank, HSBC, JPM, the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) and UBS - a combined total of $3.4bn (£2.1bn, €2.7bn) for their role in the manipulation of the foreign exchange market.
Traders from the five banks shared information about currency orders using laddish pseudonyms and shared virtual high-fives.
HSBC traders were among those operating in private chatrooms, transcripts from which were later described by the FCA as "[putting] their banks' interests ahead of those of their clients".
Comments like "lets double team em", "well done lads" and "yeah baby" litter discussions that at time appear to be exercises in back-slapping.
The FX Market
The FX market is one of the largest and most liquid markets in the world with a daily average turnover of $5.3tn, 40% of which takes place in London.
The spot FX market is a wholesale financial market and spot FX benchmarks (also known as "fixes") are used to establish the relative value of two currencies. Fixes are used by a wide range of financial and non-financial companies, for example to help value assets or manage currency risk.
The FCA's investigation focused on the G10 currencies, which are the most widely-used and systemically important, and on the 1600 hours WM Reuters and 1315 hours European Central Bank fixes.