Global Banks Hit by EU Antitrust Fines on FX Abuses

While the EU’s investigation has lagged behind, other regulators imposed up to $10 billion in penalties.

A European Union antitrust regulator could fine seven major banks for trying to manipulate foreign exchange rates in yet another settlement in a global probe into the $5-trillion-a-day market.

While the EU’s investigation has lagged behind, regulators in the US, the UK, and Switzerland have already imposed up to $10 billion in penalties on a group of global banks. The EU’s latest step also comes nearly two years after fining banks over collusion on Libor and Euribor rates.

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Barclays, Citigroup, HSBC, JPMorgan, Royal Bank of Scotland, UBS, and a small Japanese lender are set to settle charges of rigging FX rates with EU enforcers, Reuters reported today, a sign that their lengthy investigation may reach a conclusion in the coming weeks.

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Fines can reach 10 percent of their turnover

Other banks have confirmed probes by various regulators without naming them, with some are ready to admit wrongdoing in exchange for a cut in their fines.

The EU competition agencies believe the banks in question acted in concert to manipulate either prices for bids, offers, or spreads for currency spot trades. They are expected to lay out charges of illegal activities conducted by those banks before imposing fines which can reach 10 percent of their global turnover.

Earlier last year, the New York regulator accused more than a dozen traders and salespeople working for BNP Paribas of manipulating the forex market and other illegal activity over the course of six years. The Paris-based bank has since agreed to pay $350 million to make up for the misconduct.

Other banks have also faced huge fines for allowing their traders to club together to rig prices in FX markets. Also in 2017, four banks – Barclays, Royal Bank of Scotland, Citigroup and JP Morgan Chase – pleaded guilty to conspiracy to rig the foreign exchange market and fines totaling $5.6 billion were handed down by the US Department of Justice.

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