JPMorgan, Citigroup, & MUFG among 2 others Fined $1.2 Billion for Manipulating 11 Currencies

  • JP Morgan, MUFG, Citigroup, Royal Bank of Scotland, and Barclays are fined a total of 1.2 billion by EU regulators for rigging the spot Forex market for 11 currencies.
  • A similar case going with the US regulators that fined J.P. Morgan, UBS, Barclays, Citigroup, Royal Bank of Scotland, and BNP Paribas over $2.8 billion
    Citigroup, JP Morgan, Barclays, Royal Bank of Scotland, and MUFG have been fined a total of 1.07 billion euros by EU antitrust regulators for rigging the spot foreign exchange market for 11 currencies.

Swiss bank UBS has been exempted from a fine of 285 million euro since it was the first to alert the regulators of this while Citigroup was hit the hardest with 210.8 million euro penalty. Citigroup was followed by RBS and JPMorgan with 249.2 million euros and 228.8 million euros fines respectively.

“Companies and people depend on banks to exchange money to carry out transactions in foreign countries. Foreign exchange spot trading activities are one of the largest markets in the world, worth billions of euros every day,” EU Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said on Thursday.

Traders Colluded in Online Chat Rooms

In the last decade, the financial industry has been hit with billions of euros in fines worldwide for rigging the key benchmarks.

“Today we have fined Barclays, The Royal Bank of Scotland, Citigroup, J.P. Morgan, and MUFG Bank and these cartel decisions send a clear message that the Commission will not tolerate collusive behavior in any sector of the financial markets. The behavior of these banks undermined the integrity of the sector at the expense of the European economy and consumers,” Vestager added.

The investigation has been ongoing for the past six years that revealed that some of the individual traders from various banks that were in charge of the forex trading – a trading form that is executed on an intra-daily basis, exchanged sensitive information and trading plans via online professional chat rooms. The traders ran two cartels on online chat rooms and most of them knew others personally.

“The information exchanges…..enabled them to make informed market decisions on whether to sell or buy the currencies they had in their portfolios and when,” the Commission said in its report.

The Effect of Fines would be “Mild”

Foreign exchange spot trading activities are one of the largest markets in the world that is worth billions of euros every day.

A spokesperson from RBS said the bank is happy to reach a settlement with the regulators.

“Today’s fine is a further reminder of how badly the bank lost its way in the past and we absolutely condemn the behaviour of those responsible. This kind of behaviour has no place at the bank we are today; our culture and controls have changed fundamentally during the past ten years.”

The effects of the EU decision on banks, however, will be “relatively mild, because the fines aren’t huge,” said Aitor Ortiz, an analyst at Bloomberg Intelligence

A similar case with the US regulators is also ongoing with J.P. Morgan, Citigroup, UBS, Barclays, Royal Bank of Scotland, and BNP Paribas that have entered a guilty plea and collectively fined over $2.8 billion.

US regulators said the foreign exchange rigging was alleged done through chat rooms with names like “The Mafia,” “The Cartel,” and “The Bandits’ Club.”

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