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I Think We Got Away With It: Listen to HSBC Trader Phone Calls

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Posted on : October 20, 2017

Here’s the challenge for U.S. prosecutors: convince a jury former HSBC currency trader Mark Johnson is guilty of front-running a $3.5 billion client order. Their strongest evidence is HSBC’s audio recordings of the phone calls between Johnson, the bank’s former global head of foreign exchange, and traders in London and New York, which take the jury back to re-live events of six years ago.

The jury, which on Thursday started weighing the fraud case against Johnson, listened to numerous calls, including one where he said, “I think we got away with it." The audio was entered into evidence in federal court in Brooklyn, New York, and made available by the government. (Defense attorneys declined to release audio files they played at the trial. Some of the recordings contain strong language.)

  • Listen to Johnson discuss the aftermath of the order: ‘I think we got away with it’
  • Listen to Johnson discuss how high the price of the pound could rise before his client complains: ‘squeal/ramp it’
  • Listen to Johnson and Stuart Scott, the bank’s former head of currency trading in Europe, blame the pound’s rising price on buying by the Russian central bank: ‘Russian buying’
  • Listen to Johnson’s reaction upon hearing that the client was placing a $3.5 billion trade: ‘F—ing Christmas’

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Johnson is accused of buying pounds ahead of a client’s order and tipping other HSBC traders, forcing the client to pay a higher price. The bank made an $8 million profit as a result of the currency jump, according to prosecutors. He argues that his traders took legitimate steps to complete the deal and that the government is taking his comments out of context.

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