European antitrust commission has finished its five-year investigation into manipulations of euro-linked financial benchmarks by big lenders, with three large European banks facing serious fines for that.
JPMorgan (NYSE: JPMorgan Chase & Co [JPM]), HSBC (NYSE: HSBC) and Credit Agricole (EURONEXT PARIS STOCKS: Credit Agricole [ACA]) will receive official fines from the EU antitrust regulators as soon as next month, people familiar with the matter told Reuters. The charges against these three banks were announced already back in 2014, when all of them denied any wrongdoing related to the case. Bloomberg adds that JPMorgan, HSBC and Credit Agricole lost their chance to get a 10% discount on fines related to the case as they rejected to cooperate with the regulators 2 years ago, when handed a statement of objections.
Four other lenders including Deutsche Bank (NYSE: Deutsche Bank [DB]) and Société Générale (EURONEXT PARIS STOCKS: Societe Generale [GLE]) received the same charges in 2014 for sharing sensitive trading information among the "cartel" of banks and strategically pushing Euribor rates up or down to favor their trading activities. Those four lenders agreed to settle the claim for a fine of $888 million at the time whereas JPMorgan, HSBC and Credit Agricole declined to cooperate. Now, as the regulators finalized the investigations, the banks are about to receive actual fines for this case despite denying their participation in rigging the financial benchmarks.
“We continue to defend ourselves vigorously on this matter,” HSBC told Bloomberg in an email.
JPMorgan said that the charges were "without merit" and that the bank planned to defend itself whereas Credit Agricole said it was analyzing the documents related to the charges. Reuters adds that the EU antitrust commission is allowed to place fines of up to 10% of the bank's global turnover in case of breaking the bloc's law.
In total, more than 10 banks were accused of participating in the manipulations by the EU regulators, with a total amount of $9 billion in fines. According to Bloomberg, more than 20 individual traders received charges with some of them facing trials next year.