JPMorgan, HSBC, Credit Agricole Charged With Rigging By EU

JPMorgan Chase & Co. (NYSE:JPM), HSBC Holdings plc (ADR) (NYSE:HBC) (LON:HSBA) and Credit Agricole are charged with rigging financial benchmarks linked to the euro by European Union Antitrust regulators. All three banks could be subjected to fines. The European commission also revealed Tuesday that it would soon charge broker ICAP for suspected manipulation of the Yen Libor financial benchmark.

The European competition authority said, “The Commission has concerns that the three banks may have taken part in a collusive scheme which aimed at distorting the normal course of pricing components for euro interest rate derivatives.”

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JPMorgan and others face potential fines

The above three banks and ICAP rejected settling the case last December, and could now face a fine of up to 10% of their global turnover if proven guilty of breaching EU antitrust rules.

American bank, JPMorgan Chase & Co. (NYSE:JPM) said that the charges made by the European Union were without merit and it will defend itself. French bank Agricole said that it would examine the charge sheet. HSBC Holdings plc (ADR) (NYSE:HBC) (LON:HSBA) also said that it would defend itself.

So far, both United States and the European Union have slapped around $6 billion in fines on 10 banks and brokerages for rigging the London interbank offered rate (LIBOR) and its euro counterpart Euribor, says a report from Reuters. Prosecutors have also charged 16 individuals with fraud.

Back in December, six banks were charged a 1.7 billion euro total fine including Deutsche Bank, Royal Bank of Scotland and Citigroup for similar cases. The banks made settlement by paying a fine and even received 10% cut in the fine on appeal.

No decision regarding the next step

European Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia told a news conference that over the next few days authorities will issue a new statement of objections against ICAP. The firm is the world’s largest interdealer broker, and is included among the 10 institutions fined by the United States and European authorities last September for rigging yen Libor benchmark.

Almunia added that the regulators have not yet reached consensus over the next step to be taken in the investigation related to potential rigging and collusion in the trillion-dollar foreign exchange market. He said that authorities had received lots of information and are still investigating some leads, but at this moment next step cannot be announced. Authorities may decide to conduct a formal investigation or finalize the proceedings provided majority of the banks agree to settle charges.

At 10.47 am EDT today, JPMorgan Chase & Co. (NYSE:JPM) shares were down 0.28% to $53.68.