European Union antitrust regulators are going to fine seven banks for manipulating the foreign exchange market, according to reports.
The banks involved are Barclays, Citigroup, HSBC, JPMorgan, Royal Bank of Scotland, UBS and a smaller Japanese bank. However, the EU has said the fines will be cut by 10 percent if the banks admit to wrongdoing.
The antitrust enforcer has been working on the case for the last six years, and it could potentially hand out fines of up to 10 percent of an institution’s global turnover. The EU could potentially parse out the rulings against the banks, instead of putting them all together in one day.
BNP Paribas, Barclays, Citigroup, JPMorgan, Royal Bank of Scotland and UBS have all entered guilty pleas in a related case in the United States. Collectively, the banks have been fined upwards of $2.8 billion.
The manipulation of the foreign exchange rate was done in chat rooms with names like “The Cartel,” “The Mafia” and “The Bandits’ Club,” according to U.S. regulators. Participants in the chat rooms would name the dubious tactics as “front running,” “banging the close,” “painting the screen” and “taking out the filth.”
Credit Suisse was charged by EU regulators last year with the same charge, Reuters reported. The bank said in its quarterly report that it got a notice from the European Commission on July 26, 2018, that it was “engaged in anticompetitive practices in connection with its foreign exchange trading business.”
The EU typically lays out charges of what it considers illegal activities by accused companies before it moves to the next step of imposing fines.
Credit Suisse has previously said it didn’t find any evidence of malfeasance, and is fighting the antitrust charge. However, it is not known whether the European Commission can finalize the case in time to levy a fine against Credit Suisse in the upcoming weeks.