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Ex-Citigroup trader on trial for foreign exchange rigging

[NEW YORK] A former Citigroup Inc trader accused of rigging the foreign-exchange markets was a "golden boy" in demand at the bank for his knowledge of markets and ability to communicate with others, a former colleague said in his defence.

The ex-trader, Rohan Ramchandani, is on trial in federal court in New York, charged with conspiring with two other former traders, Richard Usher of JPMorgan Chase & Co and Christopher Ashton of Barclays Plc, to coordinate trades and fix currency prices in the US$5.1 trillion-a-day foreign-exchange market in a group known as "The Cartel."

On Tuesday, Carly Hosler, a former Citigroup trader who worked with Ramchandani, took the stand to defend him, saying he was "very professional" and "very very smart" - and a natural with the markets who could talk to anybody at any institution.

"Everyone wanted a piece of him," she said, adding that Ramchandani was the best trader she'd ever seen. "The salespeople, the managers. I would actually say to him, you have to say no to some of these requests."

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Ms Hosler, who appeared to choke up at times during her testimony, said she's testifying in Ramchandani's defense because he is "such a genuine guy" who offered her "amazing support" during her time at the bank, when she had a "very tough time" while going through multiple miscarriages.

"This is just ludicrous, the whole thing is just wrong," said Ms Hosler, who now works for Bloomberg LP, the parent of Bloomberg News. "It's what everyone did to do their job."

Ms Hosler was the second and final witness for the traders, who claim they were more interested in making money for themselves, even at the expense of others in the group, and were simply joking in the chatroom rather than colluding to fix prices.

Before Ms Hosler, an expert said the traders lacked the power to manipulate a market with hundreds of competitors battling for the best price. None of the defendants testified. Closing arguments are scheduled for Wednesday.

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