EU fines banks €1bn for rigging FX market
The EU has fined Barclays, Citigroup, JP Morgan, MUFG and Royal Bank of Scotland a combined €1.07bn for rigging the multitrillion-dollar foreign exchange market.
Banks have been hit with billions in fines worldwide over the last decade for the rigging of benchmarks used in many financial transactions.
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The European Commission said traders at the banks formed two cartels to manipulate the spot foreign exchange market for 11 currencies.
Citigroup was hit with the highest fine of €310.8m, while Swiss bank UBS was not fined as it had alerted the two cartels to the commission.
"These cartel decisions send a clear message that the Commission will not tolerate collusive behaviour in any sector of the financial markets," Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said.
She said most of the traders knew each other and set up chatrooms like 'Essex Express 'n the Jimmy' - named because all bar 'James' lived in Essex and shared a commute.
The five-year probe found nine traders across the banks exchanged sensitive information in the chatrooms and occasionally co-ordinated trading strategies. The "Three Way Banana Split" cartel, made up of traders at UBS, Barclays, RBS, Citigroup and JP Morgan, was fined €811.2m.
The Essex Express group involving UBS, Barclays, RBS and MUFG, was fined €257.7m, with the fine against Barclays the largest for this cartel at €94.2m.