Daily News: May 21, 2015

Banks Plead Guilty to FX Fraud; Will Pay $5.8B


Hausfeld, a global claimants’ firm dedicated to handling complex litigation, announced that five defendants have agreed with the U.S. Department of Justice to plead guilty to violating U.S. law through their conduct in the foreign exchange (FX) market. With today’s approximately $5.8 billion in fines, seven banks have paid roughly $10 billion to resolve allegations of collusion in the FX market.

Barclays, Citicorp, JPMorgan Chase and The Royal Bank of Scotland pled guilty to violating U.S. antitrust laws. UBS pled guilty to wire and mail fraud after the DOJ determined that UBS’s misconduct in the FX market had breached UBS’s prior non-prosecution agreement for LIBOR-related misconduct. The guilty pleas entered reflect widespread collusion in the FX market over a period of several years.

In addition to the guilty pleas, the banks agreed to pay more than $2.7 billion to the Department of Justice to resolve the DOJ’s FX investigations. The Federal Reserve imposed further fines of more than $1.6 billion on affiliates of the same five banks and a fine of $205 million on Bank of America for “unsafe and unsound practices.” Barclays will also pay a $1.3 billion fine as part of settlements with the New York Department of Financial Services, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, and the Financial Conduct Authority.

In November 2014, the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission, the U.S. Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, the U.K. Financial Conduct Authority, and the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority (FINMA) levied $4.3 billion in fines on Bank of America, Citigroup, HSBC, JPMorgan, RBS, and UBS.

In addition to the government fines, Hausfeld announced settlements with Bank of America, Citigroup, JPMorgan, and UBS in the FX antitrust litigation on behalf of the plaintiff class; these settlements total more than $800 million.

Speaking on the guilty pleas, Michael D. Hausfeld, chairman of Hausfeld, stated, “In a far too often necessary condemnation of financial institution misconduct, federal regulators have again fined the world’s largest banks for market manipulation. The banks pleaded guilty to felony violations of the federal antitrust laws for colluding with their competitors to fix the prices of transactions with their customers in the market for foreign exchange rates. The rights of customers cannot be subordinated to the self-interest of trader profits. The duties of financial institutions to those who entrust them with their investments must be respected, domestically and internationally. Where there is a failure of this responsibility, there must be accountability.”