London-based FX "cartel" traders will not fight U.S. extradition

LONDON (Reuters) - Three London-based former currency traders facing U.S. charges that they tried to manipulate prices in the world’s largest financial market have agreed not to fight extradition, and will appear at a New York court hearing next month.

Rohan Ramchandani, Richard Usher and Chris Ashton, formerly of Citi C.N, JP Morgan Chase JPM.N and Barclays BARC.L - dubbed the "Cartel" - were indicted by the Department of Justice in January.

A preliminary hearing in New York has been scheduled for July 17. As per the bail terms agreed with the DOJ, the three men, who all deny wrongdoing, will be able to return to and stay in Britain until the case comes to trial.

“Mr Ramchandani has agreed to travel voluntarily to the USA to stand trial and clear his name. He has not committed any criminal offense,” said Alison Geary, a lawyer at WilmerHale in London acting on behalf of Ramchandani, in a statement.

Sara George, partner at Stephenson Harwood acting on behalf of Chris Ashton, said in a statement: “Chris Ashton has reached an agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice which will allow him to travel voluntarily to the United States to stand trial for an offense ... which he did not commit.”

Jonathan Pickworth, a lawyer at White & Case, representing Usher, said in a statement that his client “welcomes the opportunity to defend himself and set the record straight – the first time he has had such opportunity in the four years since this investigation began.”

The three men were members of the “Cartel” electronic chatroom in which they are alleged to have shared sensitive client order information to manipulate exchange rates.

Britain’s Serious Fraud Office in March last year closed its own criminal investigation, concluding that there was “insufficient evidence for a realistic prospect of conviction.”

The global FX investigation into allegations that the “Cartel” and others rigged benchmark FX rates resulted in the world’s biggest banks paying $10 billion in fines and dozens of traders being fired.

Editing by Jeremy Gaunt