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Swiss watchdog fines banks almost $100 million over rate cartels
December 21, 2016 / 7:11 AM / 10 months ago

Swiss watchdog fines banks almost $100 million over rate cartels

A view of the exterior of the JP Morgan Chase & Co. corporate headquarters in New York City May 20, 2015. REUTERS/Mike Segar/Files

ZURICH (Reuters) - The Swiss Competition Commission (COMCO) fined several European and U.S. banks almost 100 million Swiss francs ($97.3 million) over interest rate cartels, the latest punishment dished out in connection with rate-rigging scandals.

COMCO began its investigation in December 2012, after Barclays Plc became the first bank to settle allegations it had attempted to manipulate the London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR), paying a $450 million fine to U.S. and UK authorities.

The COMCO penalties announced on Wednesday, the largest of which was a 33.9 million franc fine for JPMorgan Chase & Co, are relatively small compared to other sanctions doled out in rate-rigging cases.

But they are a further sign of the collusion which took place in the setting of interest rate derivatives, used by banks and companies to manage the risk of interest rates fluctuations.

COMCO said several banks had participated in cartels over Swiss franc LIBOR, the bid-ask spread on Swiss franc interest rate derivatives, Yen LIBOR, Euroyen TIBOR and EURIBOR.

The logo of the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) is seen at an office building in Zurich March 27, 2015. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann/File Photo

The JPMorgan fine came after COMCO concluded it operated a bilateral cartel with Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) (RBS.L) with the aim of influencing the Swiss franc LIBOR benchmark between March 2008 and July 2009, COMCO said in a statement.

The logo of Barclays is seen on the top of one of its branch in Madrid, Spain, March 22, 2016. REUTERS/Sergio Perez/File Photo - RTX2HXX5

RBS received full immunity for revealing the existence of the cartel to the COMCO.

Barclays (BARC.L) was fined 29.8 million francs for participating in a cartel in euro interest rate derivatives, COMCO said.

Proceeding are ongoing against BNP Paribas , Credit Agricole, HSBC, JPMorgan and Rabobank over the euro interest rate cartel, COMCO said.

($1 = 1.0273 Swiss francs)

Editing by Michael Shields

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