As the worldwide banking industry looks to turn the page on its currency rigging scandals, the fines still have not abated, culminating in the latest $50 million settlement by Barclays Plc to settle a US lawsuit, according to a recent Reuters report.
The fine is the first foreign exchange (FX) related settlement paid in the New Year by Barclays, following a $150 million fine for manipulating forex markets via its electronic trading platform back in November 2015. The civil penalty, imposed by the New York Department of Financial Services, was related to failures regarding certain internal systems and controls.
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In its latest settlement, Barclays paid a $50 million settlement for rejecting client orders that would be unprofitable for the UK bank. The agreement followed after a preliminary, all-cash settlement with investors that was spearheaded by Axiom Investment Advisors LLC via the US District Court in Manhattan – the disclosure still requires a judge’s approval despite a formal agreement and settlement by both parties.
The lawsuit originally stemmed from ‘last look’ practices from Barclays, which effectively means that traders are stymied from executing trades via small delays – in some instances lasting only milliseconds – that disrupt the flow of information and trades within the broader marketplace. In this specific instance, Barclays used this mechanism to filter out unprofitable trades, without proper authorization or explanation to clients.
Consequently, Axiom stipulated that Barclays’ policy resulted in significant damages for clients, as well as a flagrant breach of contract in its trading methodology. However, since 2014, Barclays has since revised its ‘last look’ policy, such that it would reject trades deemed ‘sufficiently unprofitable’ for both customers and the bank, not just for the bank as was previously the case during the period in question, according to the US District Court in Manhattan.