Earlier today, the European Commission (EC) fined JPMorgan Chase, the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), UBS, and Credit Suisse about $120 million over activity it considered to be “cartel” behavior, the New York Times reported.
One case involved JPMorgan manipulating the Swiss franc Libor interest rate in an “illegal bilateral cartel” with RBS, which was granted immunity and avoided a 110 million euro fine after it “revealed the existence of the cartel to the commission.”
Regulators accused the financial institutions of “trying to distort the process used to price the interest rate derivatives that were in francs from March to 2008 through July 2009,” reported the Times.
“Anti-cartel enforcement is a top priority for the commission and no sector is exempt, including the financial sector,” the European Union said in a statement.
JPMorgan cooperated with the EC during the investigation and received a “40 percent reduction in its fine,” along with a “10 percent reduction for agreeing to settle the case.”
“The settlement makes no finding that JPMorgan Chase management, or any other JPMorgan Chase employee, had any knowledge or involvement in the conduct at issue, or that the trader’s actions had any impact on the firms’ Swiss franc Libor submissions or the published Swiss franc Libor rates,” JPMorgan said in a statement.
A separate case involved RBS, UBS, JPMorgan, and Credit Suisse’s operation of a cartel on “bid-ask spreads of Swiss franc interest-rate derivatives, imposing fines worth a total of 32.4 million euros.”
RBS again avoided fines by alerting the EC to the operation.
“Cartels in the financial sector, whatever form they take, will not be tolerated,” said Joaquin Almunia, the commission vice president in charge of competition policy.
More than $6 billion in fines have been paid by global financial institutions for manipulating benchmark rates.