By Anna Louie Sussman
NEW YORK, April 27 (Reuters) - Criminal prosecutors from the U.S. Department of Justice have gone to London to interview individuals in connection with an investigation into traders' alleged rigging of foreign exchange rates, in the DOJ's first major move since it announced the investigation in October, the Financial Times reported on Sunday.
An initial set of interviews took place early in the year, and more are planned, the FT reported, citing three people familiar with the department's tactics.
The DOJ invited several UK-based currency traders who are "on the periphery" of the investigation to voluntarily be interviewed in London rather than travel to the U.S. for questioning, the FT reported.
The London interviews highlight the legal complexities of undertaking a coordinated investigation in multiple jurisdictions, according to the FT.
While the United Kingdom's financial regulator, the Financial Conduct Authority, said the interviews would be under "compelled conditions," meaning the FCA can compel people to answer its questions and not remain silent, the U.S. Constitution allows individuals to remain silent under oath in order to avoid self-incrimination.
Any evidenced gathered under compelled conditions could be difficult for U.S. authorities to use, the FT reported. UK criminal authorities cannot use compelled information directly either, the FT reported.
After extracting billions in fines from global banks for rigging Libor, the average rate at which a panel of banks expects to borrow money, authorities have turned to other benchmarks, including those that undergird the $5.3 trillion-a-day currency market, to investigate whether they are open to similar kinds of skewing.
Banks including Barclays, UBS AG,, Royal Bank of Scotland, and now Rabobank have paid out billions in fines, and have agreed to turn over all information that the Justice Department asks of them for at least two years as part of their settlements, Mythili Raman, the acting head of the department's criminal division, said in October after the forex probe was announced.
A spokesperson for the DOJ was unavailable for comment on Sunday.
(Reporting by Anna Louie Sussman; Editing by Meredith Mazzilli)