EU Fines Five Major Banks 1 Bln Euros for Cartel Collusion

18 Mai, 2019, 04:20 | Auteur: Auguste Feret
  • A general view of Barclays Bank in London. PRESS ASSOCIATION

The Commission fined the banks for taking part in two cartels dubbed "Three Way Banana Split" and "Essex Express" in the Spot Foreign Exchange market. More than a dozen financial institutions have paid about $11.8 billion in fines and penalties globally, with another $2.3 billion spent to compensate customers and investors.

The European Commission said individual traders at the banks involved formed two cartels to manipulate the spot foreign exchange market for 11 currencies, including the dollar, the euro and the pound.

Vestager said most of the traders involved in the manipulation knew each other on a personal basis and set up chatrooms with names such as "Essex Express 'n the Jimmy" because all of them except "James" lived in Essex and met on their train commute to London.

The first infringement ran from December 2007 to January 2013, while the second ran from December 2009 to July 2012, the commission said.

While large, the cartel fines are lower than a €1.3 billion penalty for banks for rigging Euribor rates and below a record €3.8 billion penalty for collusion between truckmakers. "We have since made significant control improvements".

A JP Morgan spokesperson said: "We are pleased to resolve this historical matter, which relates to the conduct of one former employee".

MUFG said in a statement that they "are committed to ensuring integrity and compliance with the regulatory authorities in every jurisdiction in which we operate, and have taken a number of measures to prevent this occurring again".

However, Barclays and Citigroup declined to comment.

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The second decision ("Forex- Essex Express" cartel) imposes a total fine of almost €258 million Barclays, RBS, and MUFG Bank (formerly Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi).

US and British authorities have since fined seven of the world's top banks a total of around $10 billion for trying to manipulate foreign exchange rates.

This, the commission said, let traders "make informed market decisions on whether to sell or buy the currencies they had in their portfolios and when".

Groups of traders from banks including Barclays and Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) worked together in secret online chatrooms to deceive the markets.

The commission found that this amounted to collusive behaviour and was thus illegal, since transactions are supposed to be executed on the same day and at the prevailing exchange rate.

Other details of current or planned trading.

Litigators have always been hoping to replicate in Britain the success of USA class action claims against banks such as Goldman Sachs, HSBC and Barclays, that have yielded more than $2 billion for investors in settlements.

Belinda Hollway, a partner at Scott + Scott Europe, said: "We've been waiting for this step before initiating a recovery action".

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