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JPMorgan settles currency manipulation lawsuit in US

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JPMorgan Chase & Co has become the first bank to settle a US antitrust lawsuit in which investors accused 12 major banks of rigging prices in the US$5 trillion-a-day foreign exchange market.

[NEW YORK] JPMorgan Chase & Co has become the first bank to settle a US antitrust lawsuit in which investors accused 12 major banks of rigging prices in the US$5 trillion-a-day foreign exchange market.

The largest US bank will pay about US$100 million, a person familiar with the matter said. Lawyers for the bank and the investors said a settlement had been reached in a letter filed on Monday with the US District Court in Manhattan.

JPMorgan settled after mediation with Kenneth Feinberg, who also oversees a General Motors Co program to compensate drivers whose vehicles had faulty ignition switches.

Monday's settlement requires court approval, and settlement papers are expected to be filed with the court this month.

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The 2013 lawsuit is separate from criminal and civil probes worldwide into whether banks rigged currency rates to boost profit at the expense of customers and investors.

JPMorgan agreed in November to pay roughly US$1.01 billion to resolve such probes by US and European regulators. Five other banks settled for an additional US$3.3 billion.

In their complaint, investors including the city of Philadelphia, hedge funds and public pension funds accused the 12 banks of having conspired since January 2003 in chat rooms, instant messages and emails to manipulate the WM/Reuters Closing Spot Rates.

They said traders would use such names as The Cartel, The Bandits' Club and The Mafia to swap confidential orders, and set prices through manipulative tactics such as "front running,""banging the close" and "painting the screen." Other defendants include Bank of America Corp, Barclays Plc, BNP Paribas SA, Citigroup Inc , Credit Suisse Group AG, Deutsche Bank AG , Goldman Sachs Group Inc, HSBC Holdings Plc , Morgan Stanley, Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc and UBS AG.

According to the lawsuit, the 12 banks held an 84 per cent global market share in currency trading, and were counterparties in 98 per cent of US spot volume. "The settlement is a responsible step by Chase in addressing its involvement," Michael Hausfeld, a lawyer for the investors, said in a phone interview. "It is a beginning with respect to the accountability of other banks engaged in the same trading." JPMorgan declined to comment. The other 11 banks declined to comment or did not respond to requests for comment. Bank of America, Citigroup, HSBC, RBS and UBS also settled with regulators in November.

REUTERS

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