“My Watch Is Off”: HSBC Traders Used Code Words To Trigger Front-Running Trades

According to prosecutor Carol Sipperly, former HSBC currency trader Mark Johnson used just four words to trigger a massive, international front-running operation that netted his firm some $8 million in illicit profits: “my watch is off.”
The bank’s former global head of foreign exchange alerted the traders around the globe via a phone call in December 2011 that was recorded, a prosecutor said Thursday. The gambit was designed to take advantage of a $3.5 billion client order to buy sterling, the U. S. says.
After Johnson’s trial recessed for the day, prosecutor Carol Sipperly asked that the jury hear the recordings on Friday, in which Johnson allegedly tipped off a trader in Hong Kong. That signal eventually reached others on both sides of the Atlantic, she said. Johnson was in New York that day, speaking to Stuart Scott, the bank’s former head of currency trading in Europe, who was in London, just before the transaction for its client, Cairn Energy Plc.
Prosecutors say Johnson and Scott, along with other traders, bought pounds before the transaction. Johnson is on trial in federal court in Brooklyn, New York, accused of a scheme that produced a $8 million profit for his bank.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Oct 6, 2017.

 

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