Swiss COMCO Reaches $96 million Settlement with Seven Banks over Libor Rigging

The investigation continues into the roles of BNP Paribas, Credit Agricole, HSBC, JPMorgan and Rabobank in the Euribor market.

The authorities in Switzerland concluded their four-year investigation into the rigging of interest rates after seven major international banks, including two Swiss lenders, were fined CHF 99 million ($96 million) for colluding to manipulate several benchmark rates.

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Barclays was fined CHF 29.8 by the Swiss Competition Commission (COMCO), while the Royal Bank of Scotland paid CHF 12.3 million. In addition, Credit Suisse, UBS, Deutsche Bank, Citigroup and JPMorgan, and Société Générale paid in varying amounts based on the time they participated in the cartel and the value of products involved.

Those penalties came after COMCO found that the banks formed a cartel “aimed at distorting the normal course of pricing components for the derivatives”. Related proceedings against a slew of other banks are ongoing. The investigation continues into the roles of BNP Paribas, Credit Agricole, HSBC, JPMorgan and Rabobank in the Euribor market.

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Switzerland’s competition commission said there was still room for an amicable settlement with those banks.

Barclays, Deutsche Bank, Royal Bank of Scotland and Société Générale will pay a total fine of CHF 45.3 million for collusion between 2005 and 2008. COMCO said the banks discussed their pricing strategies and submissions for the calculation of the EURIBOR, the interbank interest rate at which eurozone banks lend. In this case, Deutsche Bank was granted immunity and will not pay a fine for revealing the existence of the cartel to the authorities.

The British lender Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) and US bank JPMorgan will also pay CHF 33.9 million for their involvement in the manipulation of the Swiss franc Libor benchmark. RBS escaped a fine over its participation in that cartel because it helped the authorities with information.

In the case of the yen Libor cartel, the total fine is CHF 14.4 million, of which CHF 3.8 million will be paid by Citigroup, CHF 5 million by Deutsche Bank, CHF 1.7 million by J.P. Morgan and RBS CHF will pay 3.9 million for manipulation that took place between 2007 and 2010.

A fourth probe also saw Credit Suisse, JPMorgan, RBS and UBS fined CHF 5.4 million for colluding to influence spread on Swiss franc interest rate derivatives between May and September in 2007, while UBS was granted immunity for cooperation with the regulator.

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