As the European rate rigging investigation which started last year, seemed to have been put behind the FX manipulation scandal, the former is now coming back to the headlines as the anti-trust body of the European Commission has triggered a procedure which will end up charging French Crédit Agricole, UK’s HSBC and US JP Morgan with participating in a cartel to rig the EURIBOR financial benchmark.
According to the Statement of Objections which the European Commission (EC) published on its website yesterday, the above-mentioned banks may have been participating in a cartel which distorted prices of the EURIBOR interest rate fixing, hence violating a number of antitrust regulations. The news comes as the German regulator Bafin was the first to announce that it had uncovered evidence of FX rates manipulation.
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The issue of such a Statement of Objections is part of an initial procedure which the European Commission takes in several formal steps when violations of the EU anti-trust laws have been potentially identified. With it, the EC informs the parties involved about certain concerns which have been raised about their business practices, after which they have a period of time to get acquainted with the Commission’s investigation file and respond to it in writing or in an oral hearing, presenting their views on the matter.
The world’s largest interdealer broker, ICAP, is likely next to be charged by the EC, relating to alleged manipulation of the Japanese yen LIBOR benchmark.
According to the letter sent by the EC, the parties charged with antitrust law violations are at risk of receiving a fine totalling 10% of the company’s annual turnover worldwide.