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Citigroup, JPMorgan among banks fined $1.2 billion in forex probe

Five banks agreed to pay EU fines of about $1.2 billion for colluding on forex trading strategies.

Bloomberg|
May 16, 2019, 04.07 PM IST
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By Aoife White

Citigroup Inc., Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc and JPMorgan Chase & Co. are among five banks that agreed to pay European Union fines of about 1.07 billion euros ($1.2 billion) for colluding on foreign-exchange trading strategies.

Citigroup was fined 310.8 million euros, RBS will pay 249.2 million euros and JPMorgan’s penalty was 228.8 million euros, the European Commission said in a statement on Thursday. Barclays Plc was fined 210.3 million euros and Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group Inc. must pay nearly 70 million euros.

Traders ran two cartels on online chatrooms, swapping sensitive information and trading plans that allowed them make informed decisions to buy or sell currencies, the regulator said.

"Foreign exchange spot trading activities are one of the largest markets in the world, worth billions of euros every day," EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said. "These cartel decisions send a clear message that the commission will not tolerate collusive behavior in any sector of the financial markets."

While large, the cartel fines are lower than a 1.3 billion euro penalty for banks five years ago for rigging Euribor rates and below a record 3.8 billion euro penalty for collusion between truckmakers.

UBS Group AG escaped a fine because it was the first to tell regulators about the collusion. The five banks won reduced penalties by striking a settlement with the EU that won’t allow them challenge the EU’s findings. Credit Suisse Group AG was separately charged by the EU over FX collusion last year and a fine may come at a later date.

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