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Big Banks in Murky Waters, Accused for FX Manipulation by EU

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Amid widespread global investigation by U.S., British, Swiss and European Union (EU) regulators into the alleged foreign exchange market manipulation, seven major global banks are likely to be imposed with fines in the coming weeks by EU antitrust regulators, Reuters reported. Banks have been accused for rigging prices in the $5.1 trillion-a-day foreign-exchange market.

Though the EU has been sluggish in its investigation, global major banks have already faced up to $10 billion in penalties by the U.S., U.K. and Swiss regulators. Notably, after two years of penalizing the financial firms for collusion of Libor and Euribor rates, the EU is nearing conclusion of its six-year long investigation for rigging prices.

The accused banks include Barclays PLC (BCS - Free Report) , Citigroup (C - Free Report) , JPMorgan (JPM - Free Report) , HSBC Holdings PLC (HSBC - Free Report) , Royal Bank of Scotland , UBS Group AG (UBS - Free Report) and a small Japanese bank. Notably, these banks will likely face fines of around 10% of their global turnover. Nonetheless, on acceptance of wrongdoings by the banks, the fines will be reduced by 10%.

Meanwhile, another global major bank, Credit Suisse (CS - Free Report) , has been fined with the EU antitrust charge, though any evidence of misconduct has not been traced yet. Therefore, the EU is skeptical on whether or not the case will be finalized against the bank in coming weeks.

Probes & Allegations

Per the EU, banks have been accused for manipulating prices for bids, offers or spreads for currency spot trades.

Currency market rigging is not new in the banking industry. Previously, some big banks were penalized for rigging the London interbank offered rate (LIBOR) — a benchmark for credit card rates and other loans.

Globally, banks have faced more than $200 billion in penalties, in recent years, following investigations into their shoddy malpractices, including interest-rate manipulation, violation of agreements and inadequate selling of a number of financial products.


Regulatory authorities are investigating scandals further related to the heightening foreign-exchange rate fixing and are determined to put forward a landmark judgment to terminate such shrewd practices in the future, bring justice to the sufferers, and punish the wrongdoers. While settlement of such issues will put to rest a long-drawn investigation and bring reprieve to the banks, this comes as a huge blow to their financials.

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