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Swiss regulator fines US, UK banks US$91m over running of FX cartel

Geneva

CITIGROUP INC and Barclays Plc are among global banks fined about 90 million Swiss francs (S$123.5 million) by Switzerland's competition regulator for their roles in running a foreign exchange trading cartel.

Barclays was fined 27 million francs, while Citigroup was handed a 28.5 million franc sanction and JPMorgan Chase & Co was hit with a 9.5 million franc fine, Switzerland's Competition Commission said in a statement. UBS Group AG was exempted for its role in revealing the existence of the cartel.

The Swiss sanctions come after years of investigation by regulators on both sides of the Atlantic into how traders used chatrooms to fix leading currency exchange rates. Five of the banks agreed last month to pay 1.07 billion euros (S$1.46 billion) in fines to the European Union for their forex collusion.

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Traders at Barclays, Citigroup, JPMorgan, Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc and UBS colluded using the "three-way banana split" cartel over six years, while traders at Barclays, MUFG Bank, RBS and UBS operated the so-called Essex Express to fix trades in a similar manner between 2009 and 2012, according to the Swiss regulator.

RBS was fined 22.5 million francs and MUFG, 1.5 million francs, according to the statement on Thursday.

An investigation into Credit Suisse Group's role is continuing, while probes into Bank Julius Baer & Co AG and Zurcher Kantonalbank have been concluded, the Swiss watchdog said, without saying if those two banks will be sanctioned. BLOOMBERG