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3 European banks under FX probe: sources

[WASHINGTON] The New York state financial regulator has subpoenaed three major European banks and a US peer in a probe of foreign-exchange rigging, sources close to the situation told AFP.

The sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that the regulator, Benjamin Lawsky, had sought information about currency practices from French banks BNP Paribas and Societe Generale. One of the sources said Credit Suisse and Wall Street bank Goldman Sachs were also targeted.

The subpoenas, served in December to BNP Paribas, Societe Generale, Goldman Sachs and Credit Suisse, ask the banks for documents related to their currency operations, said one of the sources, adding that Lawsky was particularly interested in finding out the specific technologies the banks used.

Mr Lawsky is investigating the use of chat rooms and instant messaging by forex traders to rig the price of currencies on the market.

The four banks are cooperating with Mr Lawsky, the person said.

Societe Generale was not immediately available to comment. Mr Lawsky's office, BNP Paribas and Credit Suisse declined to comment.

The overall currency investigation began two years ago amid suspicion that Wall Street traders manipulated foreign-exchange prices in line with their own interests.

mr Lawsky's ongoing investigation of Barclays in the forex affair is currently holding up an agreement between the British bank and other US and British regulators, the sources said.

Mr Lawsky, who has the authority to revoke a bank's license to operate in New York state, is balking at a global settlement deal sought by Barclays.

In November, six banks moved to close the first phase of the case. They agreed to pay a combined US$4.25 billion in fines to settle with financial regulators in Washington and Britain. The settlement included JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, Royal Bank of Scotland, UBS and HSBC.