A British trader who previously worked at a major bank has today launched an appeal against a potential extradition over the Atlantic on foreign exchange fraud charges.
Stuart Scott, who was formerly a currencies trader at HSBC, was told in 2017 that he would be sent to the US to face charges related to forex rigging.
That judgement was made by Westminster Magistrates’ Court. However, Scott, who lives in Hertfordshire, is now appealing to the Court of Appeal to have the original decision reversed.
If he is extradited to the US to face charges in New York, he would face eleven charges of wire fraud – each of which has a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison.
Scott has maintained his innocence throughout the proceedings so far.
The charges have been levied by the Department of Justice, which is the US Federal Government’s department in charge of law enforcement. Lawyers there accuse Scott of “front running” a forex deal while he worked at HSBC, or entering the market as a result of knowing that a large order was about to be placed.
He is believed to have made around USD $8m.
The deal, which took place in 2011, was for HSBC client Cairn Energy, a natural resources development and exploration firm based in Edinburgh.
The complicating factor in the case is that Scott’s alleged accomplice, a fellow former HSBC employee named Mark Johnson, has already been tried and found guilty of foreign exchange rigging charges in the US.
Johnson was sent to prison for two years, and he was also ordered to pay a six-figure sum in US dollars as a fine.
During the appeal hearing on Wednesday, lawyers for both Scott and the American government argued their cases for and against the move.
A barrister speaking on behalf of the US Government said that Scott ought to be extradited because it was unlikely that the responsible body in Britain, the Serious Fraud Office, would fight the case in the UK if it was not taken up by the American judiciary.
In reference to Johnson’s case, the US government’s representative also claimed that it was useful to ensure that prosecutions for similar cases were carried out in the same place, where possible.
Lawyers for Scott disagreed. They pointed out that the act which Scott is alleged to have committed, wire fraud, is not against the law in Britain.
Arguments were also made by lawyers about the potential unfairness of trying Scott – who, like Johnson, is a British citizen – in the US.
They claimed that because so many features of the case were geographically sited in Britain, including the location of Scott’s employment and the location of the alleged crime, it would not be right for the trial to occur in America.
Scott is not on trial and the Court of Appeal will not be making a verdict. Judges at the court will merely make a decision on whether he should be extradited to America.