The European Union is expected soon to accuse several banks of attempted collusion in the setting of lending rate benchmark Euribor, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing people briefed on the probe.
Barclays (BARC.L) has already acknowledged trying to rig the Euribor rate, and other banks are likely to be pressed by regulators in the United States, Britain and elsewhere into similar admissions, the Journal said.
At least a dozen banks are under investigation, at least four of them for allegedly working with Barclays, the newspaper said, citing disclosures by banks and regulators.
France's Credit Agricole SA (CAGR.PA) and Societe Generale SA (SOGN.PA), Britain's HSBC Holdings (HSBA.L) and Germany's Deutsche Bank (DBKGn.DE) are among other banks being investigated for possibly working with Barclays to manipulate Euribor, the Journal said.
All four banks declined to comment to the Journal. None of the banks could immediately be reached for comment by Reuters outside of regular European business hours.
Euribor, the euro interbank offered rate, and Libor, the London interbank offered rate, are the key gauges of how much banks pay to borrow from peers, and underpin swathes of financial products from Spanish mortgages to derivatives contracts sealed in London.
Both are set using interbank borrowing rates submitted by banks.
Euribor-EBF, an arm of the European Banking Federation that runs Euribor, has warned that nervous banks could quit the panels that contribute to setting such rates due to ongoing investigations, undermining the systems used to fix the price of lending.
Reuters parent company Thomson Reuters Corp (TRI.TO) collects information from banks and uses it to calculate Libor rates on behalf of the British Bankers Association (BBA). It also computes Euribor.
(Reporting by Sakthi Prasad; Additional reporting by Tej Sapru in Bangalore; Editing by Richard Pullin)