Margrethe Vestager, European Commission
The European Commission said the banks colluded on euro interest rate derivative pricing elements, and exchanged sensitive information, in breach of EU antitrust rules.
Crédit Agricole, HSBC and JPMorgan Chase chose not to settle this cartel case with the Commission, unlike Barclays, Deutsche Bank, RBS and Société Générale, with whom the Commission reached a settlement concerning the same cartel in December 2013.
Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, in charge of competition policy, 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."
The Commission's investigation found that there was a cartel in place between September 2005 and May 2008, involving a total of seven banks (Barclays, Crédit Agricole, HSBC, JPMorgan Chase, Deutsche Bank, RBS and Société Générale) over varying time periods. It covered the whole European Economic Area.
The participating traders of the banks were in regular contact through corporate chat-rooms or instant messaging services. The traders' aim was to distort the normal course of pricing components for euro interest rate derivatives. They did this by telling each other their desired or intended EURIBOR submissions and by exchanging sensitive information on their trading positions or on their trading or pricing strategies.
This means that the seven banks colluded instead of competing with each other on the euro derivatives market. This market is very important not only to banks but also to many companies in the Single Market, which use euro interest rate derivatives to hedge their financing risk.
Today's Commission decision fines Crédit Agricole, HSBC and JPMorgan Chase for their participation in this cartel. This follows a settlement reached with Barclays, Deutsche Bank, RBS and Société Générale in the same cartel in December 2013.
In setting the level of fines, the Commission took into account the banks' value of sales for the products concerned within the EEA, the very serious nature of the infringement, its geographic scope and its duration.
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