JP Morgan, Crédit Agricole and HSBC fined €485m over Euribor cartel

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JP Morgan incurred the largest penalty of the three banks

The European Commission said in a December 7 statement that the banks “colluded instead of competing with each other on the euro derivatives market” between September 2005 and May 2008.

The banks are alleged to have colluded on euro interest-rate derivative pricing elements and exchanged sensitive information, in breach of EU antitrust rules, the Commission said.

It has fined JP Morgan €337.2 million, the largest penalty, with Crédit Agricole fined €114.7 million and HSBC €33.6 million.

The penalties – which follow a settlement reached with Barclays, Deutsche Bank, Royal Bank of Scotland and Societe Generale over the alleged cartel in December 2013 – come after a five-year investigation into alleged rigging of Euribor, a measure of the cost of interbank lending in euros.

Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said: “A sound and competitive financial sector is essential for investment and growth. Banks have to respect EU competition rules just like any other company operating in the single market.”

A JP Morgan spokeswoman said: “We have cooperated fully with the European Commission throughout its five year investigation. We did not engage in any wrongdoing with respect to the Euribor benchmark. We will continue to vigorously defend our position against these allegations, including through possible appeals to the European courts.”

An HSBC spokeswoman said: “The European Commission’s decision relates to allegations of Euribor manipulation and related purported conduct during the course of one month in early 2007. We believe we did not participate in an anti-competitive cartel. We are reviewing the European Commission’s decision and considering our legal options.”

Crédit Agricole said in a statement that it “firmly believes that it did not infringe competition law. Accordingly, it will appeal the Commission’s decision before the European courts”.

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