U.S. judge says Trump order could impact HSBC executive’s UK trip

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By Nate Raymond | NEW YORK

NEW YORK A federal judge in Brooklyn on
Wednesday signaled that President Donald Trump’s stance on
immigration may justify rejecting a HSBC Holdings Plc
executive’s request to return to England while awaiting a U.S.
trial on fraud charges.

Mark Johnson, a British citizen who at the time of his
arrest in July was HSBC’s global head of foreign exchange cash
trading, had been allowed to return to England from December to
January, and sought permission to travel there again in March.

But U.S. District Judge Nicholas Garaufis said that while he
would prefer to let Johnson visit his wife and five children,
the current environment might complicate his return.

The judge cited Trump’s Jan. 27 order temporarily banning
entry to people from seven Muslim-majority countries, which is
now being reviewed by the San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit
Court of Appeals.

“My problem is I don’t know what is going on down in
Washington,” Garaufis said.

Trump, a Republican who took office on Jan. 20, has defended
the directive as necessary to prevent attacks by Islamist

Under a plan proposed by Johnson’s lawyer, Garaufis would
order his bail to be extended to include the United Kingdom, and
Johnson would seek a type of visa he has used before to allow
for his return.

During a hearing that sometimes drew laughter in the
courtroom, Garaufis said would wait for a 9th Circuit ruling
before deciding Johnson’s bail conditions.

He said countries such as the United Kingdom, which he said
has a “large suspect population,” could be added to Trump’s list
of targeted countries, perhaps preventing Johnson’s return to
face the U.S. government’s case.

“We’re in an extremely volatile situation in terms of
immigration,” Garaufis said. “We just don’t know.”

Prosecutors said Johnson and another executive, Stuart
Scott, in 2011 misused information from a client that hired HSBC
to convert $3.5 billion to British pounds in connection with a
planned sale of the client’s foreign subsidiaries.

The executives then used their insider knowledge to trade
ahead of the transaction, causing a spike in the price of the
currency that hurt the client, prosecutors said.

Johnson has pleaded not guilty to conspiracy and wire fraud
charges. Prosecutors have said they plan to seek Scott’s
extradition from the United Kingdom.

The case is U.S. v. Johnson et al, U.S. District Court,
Eastern District of New York, No. 16-cr-00457.

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