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7 Banks Receive Only Minor Antitrust Fines In Mexico

 |  January 24, 2021

Mexico’s antitrust watchdog has fined seven banks a total of US$1.5 million, only 4% of potential penalties, after finding evidence of price-rigging in the peso bond market early last decade, according to Bloomberg News.

Deutsche Bank, Barclays, Bank of America, Citigroup’s local unit Citibanamex, Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria, Banco Santander Mexico, and JPMorgan Chase & Co. were fined a combined 29.4 million pesos out of a potential 680 million (US$34.12 million), the document showed. Deutsche Bank and Barclays got the two biggest fines at 8.7 million pesos and 6.35 million pesos, respectively (US$436,606 and US$318,673, respectively).

The ruling, to be published as early as Monday, January 25, follows a four-year investigation by antitrust commission COFECE that was aided by a whistle-blower who came forward in May 2015, the documents showed. Investigators said they found evidence in electronic chats from 2010 to 2013 of cartel behavior in the secondary market.

The fines are tiny compared to the billions of dollars Barclays and Deutsche paid back in 2015 to settle charges with US, UK, and European regulators. While COFECE can fine companies as much as 10% of their revenues when they engage in cartel-like behavior, banks and traders were fined under a less-harsh statute that set maximums at 200,000 times the country’s daily minimum wage.

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