By Steve Slater and Clare Hutchison
LONDON Jan 17 HSBC and Citigroup
both suspended foreign exchange traders on Friday as a global
probe into possible currency market manipulation intensified.
Regulators from the United States arrived in London this
week, stepping up an investigation in which they are working
with Britain's financial watchdog to determine whether traders
at some of the world's biggest banks colluded to manipulate the
$5.3 trillion-a-day foreign exchange market.
The investigations centre on senior traders' communication
of client positions via electronic chatrooms, which featured
prominently also in a probe into the rigging of a key interest
rate known as the London interbank offered rate, or Libor.
As the currency investigation ramps up, the banks themselves
are scrutinising their employees more closely and most are now
carrying out internal investigations.
Sources told Reuters that Deutsche Bank suspended
several traders in New York this week, while U.S. regulators
descended on Citigroup's London offices.
A spokesman for HSBC confirmed the bank had suspended two FX
traders in London, but declined further comment.
The two HSBC traders suspended are Edward Pinto and Serge
Sarramegna, said a person with direct knowledge of the
Their positions were not known, but Sarramegna has in the
past been head of the G10 spot FX desk, according to numerous
reports. Both men are listed as active on the UK regulator's
register of financial industry professionals.
The two men could not immediately be reached at their office
phones or company email addresses. Sarramegna could not be
reached at his home in Essex, 28 miles (45km) east of London.
A Citigroup spokesman said two FX traders had been sent "on
The Citi traders are London-based Anthony John and Andrew
Amantia, who works in New York, a source with knowledge of the
matter said. Both are G10 spot currency traders at the U.S.
The source said the men were suspended on Thursday as a
result of investigations into chatroom communications.
Neither man could be reached at their office telephone
Several traders at several banks have been suspended or sent
on leave. Citi last week fired its head of European spot foreign
exchange trading, Rohan Ramchandani, following a prolonged
period on leave, one source with knowledge of the matter said.
Deutsche Bank, Citi and HSBC are three of the biggest
players in the FX market.
Britain's Financial Conduct Authority began a formal
investigation into the currency market in October and the U.S.
Justice Department is also investigating possible manipulation.
The FCA is focusing on around 15 banks, whom it has asked
for - or required to provide - information about currency