Regulators slapped a combined US$3.4 billion in penalties on five major banks in a landmark settlement over allegations of price fixing in the foreign exchange market, Reuters reported.
The banks include HSBC, Royal Bank of Scotland, UBS, JP Morgan Chase and Citibank. A separate probe into Barclays is continuing.
The banks were fined for attempting to manipulate foreign exchange benchmarks in a year-long probe that has put the largely unregulated US$5 trillion-a-day market on a tighter leash, with dozens of dealers suspended or fired, the report said.
Switzerland’s UBS took the biggest penalty, paying US$661 million to Britain’s Financial Services Authority (FCA) and the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), and ordered by the Swiss regulator FINMA to hand over 134 million Swiss francs (US$139 million).
FINMA also ordered Switzerland’s largest bank to automate at least 95 percent of its global foreign exchange trading and limit bonuses for traders of foreign exchange and precious metals, where it said it had also found evidence of serious misconduct, to 200 percent of their base salary for two years.
Other bank employees who earn more than 200 percent of their base salary in bonuses will have to undergo an approval process.
FINMA has started enforcement proceedings against 11 former and current employees of UBS.
The UK regulator’s first group settlement, worth more than US$1.7 billion, eclipses the 460 million pounds it has so far fined the industry for alleged interest rate manipulation, reflecting increasing political and public demands that banks — blamed for sparking the 2008 credit crisis — are held accountable and culpable for misconduct.
The CFTC fined the five banks more than US$1.4 billion for attempted manipulation.
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