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Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase and 3 other banks agree to pay $5.6 Billion for conspiring to manipulate currency and interest rates.

Five large banks have agreed to pay $5.6 billion to resolve an antitrust investigation into manipulation of currency prices and interest rates.

Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase, Barclays and the Royal Bank of Scotland will plead guilty to antitrust violations for conspiring to manipulate the prices of U.S. dollars and euros.

According to prosecutors, one group of traders for the banks, who called themselves “the cartel,” used code to communicate in an online chat room to manipulate currency rates in the foreign exchange market.
A fifth bank, UBS, will plead guilty to manipulating the benchmark London Interbank Offered Rate, or Libor, which is determined based on bank estimates of the rate at which they could borrow funds from other banks. UBS had originally obtained a nonprosecution agreement over the conduct, but prosecutors voided it when the bank was accused of violating the terms.

As part of the agreement, the money will be paid to states, and to the federal and U.K. governments.
According to source close to the investigation, the guilty pleas “represent a first in a financial industry that has been dogged by numerous scandals and investigations since the 2008 financial crisis. Until now, banks have either had their biggest banking units or small subsidiaries plead guilty.”

It remains to be seen what impact this will have on the way banks will conduct themselves in the future.

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