HSBC suspends two FX traders, Citi sends two on leave as global probe ramps up

HSBC Holdings said it had suspended two foreign exchange traders in London yesterday, while Citigroup said it had put a pair of traders on leave with the global probe into possible manipulation in currency markets picking up steam.

According to a spokesman for the bank, HSBC could confirm the suspensions of two foreign exchange traders in London.

A Citigroup spokesman said two FX traders had been put "on leave", without elaborating.

With global investigations into alleged currency market manipulation intensifying this week, most major banks were carrying out internal investigations into their activities.

Regulators from the US arrived in London this week, to accelerate investigation in which they are working in association with the UK's financial watchdog, the Financial Conduct Authority, 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, that also prominently featured in a probe into the rigging of a key interest rate known as the London interbank offered rate, or Libor.

With the currency investigation ramping up, the banks themselves were scrutinising their employees more closely and most were carrying out internal investigations.

Reuters quoted sources as saying that Deutsche Bank suspended several traders in New York this week, while US regulators carried out investigations at Citigroup's London offices.

Reuters quoted a person with direct knowledge of the situation as saying the two HSBC traders suspended were Edward Pinto and Serge Sarramegna.

Though their positions were not known, Sarramegna had, in the past been head of the G10 spot foreign exchange desk, numerous reports indicate.

The UK regulator's register of financial industry professionals list them as active.

Reuters quoted, a source with 'knowledge of the matter' as saying, the Citi traders were London-based Anthony John and Andrew Amantia, who works in New York, both G10 spot currency traders at the US bank.

According to the source, the men were suspended on Thursday as a result of investigations into chatroom communications.

Several traders at several banks had been suspended or sent on leave, with Citi last week firing its head of European spot foreign exchange trading, Rohan Ramchandani, following a prolonged period on leave, according to one source with knowledge of the matter.

The FCA is focused on currency trading activities of 15 banks, which it has asked, or required, to provide information.