A former Barclays trader has been fined $1.2m (£920,000) by the US Federal Reserve for manipulating FX rates and has been banned from working in the US banking industry for the rest of his life. Christopher Ashton, the former global head of the FX spot-trading business at Barclays' London offices, was accused of using chat rooms to coordinate investments, manipulate exchange rates and disclose confidential information about clients to traders at other firms.
According to the prosecutor, Ashton was member of a chat room called "The Cartel", which included a number of high-profile traders based in Europe.
Prior to that, he had set up two separate chat rooms, called "Sterling Lads" and "Essex Express", which focused on the sterling and the yen respectively.
The Fed claimed Ashton received a bonus of £380,000 after hitting his annual revenue target in 2010. However, a year later, after joining "The Cartel" group, his bonus rocketed to £725,000, which earned him praise from his employees for delivering "exceptional" trading profits.
Along with other members of the chat group, however, Ashton was accused of using code words to conceal trading activity by his clients. By doing so, the prosecutor said, he deliberately broke Barclays' policy.
"Ashton's conduct showed a wilful and continuing disregard for the safety and soundness of Barclays in that he engaged in a sustained pattern of misconduct over the course of years, which subjected the firm to financial loss and legal and reputational risk," the Fed said in a statement.
In 2015, the FTSE 100-listed bank was fined $342m for implementing unsafe practices related to foreign exchange markets, bringing the total amount the bank has paid in criminal and civil fines over allegations of FX manipulation to $2.4bn.
Ashton, who was suspended by the bank in November 2013 before being fired in May last year, becomes the second trader to be banned for this kind of offence after former UBS trade Matthew Gardiner suffered the same fate last month.