'Flash crash' trader begins fight against extradition to US

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The British trader accused of playing a major role in the 2010 Wall Street “flash crash”, Navinder Sarao, will attempt to fight extradition to the US in a two-day hearing at Westminster magistrates court.

The hearing, beginning on Thursday, is taking place four months later than originally planned. It was previously postponed after an injury to one of Sarao’s legal team, James Lewis QC of Three Raymond Buildings, and after the prosecution, the US Department of Justice and the commodity futures trading commission added to the allegations against the former trader.

Sarao’s legal team, minus Lewis, argued their client was disappointed and distressed by the new extradition request. He denies the charges.

Lewis, according to his colleagues, is back for this week’s hearing. He is an extradition specialist of whom the law journal Chambers states: “He has both defended and prosecuted in extradition proceedings all the way up to the supreme court.”

There are high-profile examples of British financiers who have failed to fend off US extradition requests, including most notably the NatWest Three, who stood trial in Texas in 2008, and the businessman Ian Norris, who was sentenced to 18 months in prison in 2010.

The US authorities believe Sarao repeatedly manipulated the stock market by using various techniques to generate fake sell orders.

In this week’s hearing before district judge Purdy, the US authorities will need to prove dual criminality – that the crimes he is being accused of are offences in the UK as well as the US – and also establish that the UK authorities are not investigating the issue.

Sarao’s lawyers, who intend to use academics to support their case, claim the trader, of Hounslow in west London, has been been made a scapegoat for the crash and could be subject to a much harsher sentence in the US than he might have got in the UK.

Sarao spent four months in prison before being released after a judge granted a reduction in his bail terms. Bail was originally set at £5m, which he could not meet because of a global freezing order on his assets imposed by the US authorities.

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article was written by David Hellier, for The Guardian on Thursday 4th February 2016 06.00 Europe/London

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