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By Jamie McGeever
LONDON, Oct 14 (Reuters) - Three London-based currency traders have left JP Morgan and HSBC, sources said on Tuesday, as investigations by banks and regulators into alleged collusion and manipulation in the $5.3 trillion-a-day market draw closer to a settlement.
The three are Richard Usher, former head of spot G10 currency trading at JP Morgan, Serge Sarramegna, former UK head of G10 FX cash trading at HSBC, and Edward Pinto, a spot Scandinavian currencies trader at HSBC, the sources, who declined to be named, told Reuters.
None of them could be reached for comment. All three had been on leave for several months, sources have said.
Britain’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) declined to comment.
Sarramegna and Pinto were both fired, a source familiar with the matter said. Usher was listed as “inactive” on the FCA’s register of approved individuals as of Oct. 6.
Last week, Dutch lender Rabobank placed two London-based currency traders, including its chief dealer, on paid leave following an internal investigation into the bank’s currency trading practices.
It is unclear whether the JP Morgan and HSBC moves were directly related to the global investigation into allegations that a handful of senior traders shared client order information in electronic chatrooms known as “The Cartel”, but sources said it adds to expectations that the year-long probe may be close to yielding its first results.
“This is interesting. It’s a sign we’re getting somewhere (in the investigation),” said one source familiar with the investigation. “Things are starting to move apace.”
Usher had been on leave since October last year, and Sarramegna and Pinto were suspended in January, sources have said.
More than 30 currency operatives at several leading banks - including one at the Bank of England - have been suspended, placed on leave or fired as a dozen authorities including the U.S. Department of Justice have conducted their investigations.
The investigation originally centred on activity related to the so-called “London fixing”, the one-minute window at 4:00 pm in London every trading day when benchmark exchange rates are set, but has since broadened out, sources say.
Sources have told Reuters that a settlement between the FCA and major banks based largely on banks admitting lax internal compliance, oversight failures and market conduct breaches by individual employees could be reached by the end of the year.
Among the banks cooperating with the FCA’s inquiries are Barclays, UBS, Deutsche Bank, Citi and <RBS RBS.L>.
Reform of the world’s largest market is also under way. Last month, the G20 said that the London fix window should be widened to five minutes to make it harder to manipulate. (Reporting by Jamie McGeever; Editing by Louise Ireland)