EU Fines Five Big Lenders €344 million

Some of Europe’s top banks are affected by the decision, including Credit Suisse and UBS in Switzerland, RBS, HSBC, and Barclays in the United Kingdom. Some traders at these banks communicated sensitive information and trading plans in a chatroom known as “Sterling Lads,” according to the Commission.

They even coordinated trading plans in some circumstances. The traders were in charge of the G10 currencies’ foreign-exchange spot trading.

“The collusive behavior of the five banks undermined the integrity of the financial sector at the expense of the European economy and consumers,” EU competition chief Margrethe Vestager said in a statement.

The information exchanges made it possible for traders “to make informed market decisions on whether and when to sell or buy the currencies they had in their portfolios, as opposed to a situation where traders acting independently from each other take an inherent risk in taking these decisions,” the Commission noted.

UBS received immunity as it revealed the existence of the cartel; it avoided a €94 million fine. Three other banks cooperated with the investigation, thus receiving reduce fines: HSBC was fined €174.3 million; Barclays €54.3 million; RBS (now NatWest) €32.5 million.

Credit Suisse, which didn’t cooperate under the leniency or settlement procedures, received a fine of €83.3 million.

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