Business / Corporate

EU fines Japan's MUFG and four U.S. and British banks €1.07 billion over forex cartel

Kyodo, JIJI

The European Union on Thursday fined MUFG Bank and four major British and U.S. banks a total of €1.07 billion (¥131 billion; $1.2 billion) for rigging the spot foreign exchange market for 11 currencies.

The European Commission, the executive organ of the European Union, found that the five banks took part in the cartel for the spot foreign exchange market for currencies including the dollar, the euro and the yen.

During certain periods between 2007 and 2013, foreign exchange traders of the five banks “exchanged sensitive information and trading plans, and occasionally coordinated their trading strategies through various online professional chatrooms,” it said.

“Companies and people depend on banks to exchange money to carry out transactions in foreign countries. Foreign exchange spot trading activities are one of the largest markets in the world, worth billions of euros every day,” EU Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said in a statement.

“Today we have fined Barclays, The Royal Bank of Scotland, Citigroup, J.P. Morgan and MUFG Bank and these cartel decisions send a clear message that the Commission will not tolerate collusive behavior in any sector of the financial markets.”

“The behavior of these banks undermined the integrity of the sector at the expense of the European economy and consumers,” Vestager, who is in charge of competition policy, said.

Tokyo-based MUFG, which was fined €69.75 million, said it “takes this issue very seriously” and that it has taken steps to prevent the occurrence of similar issues in the future, including strengthening its monitoring framework.

“MUFG Bank is committed to conducting business with the highest levels of integrity, and to continually enhancing its regulatory compliance,” it said.