The European Commission has come down hard on banks again, fining JP Morgan, UBS and Credit Suisse a combined €93.9m (£74m) for colluding on benchmarks and prices, including libor rates and interest rate derivatives.
JP Morgan will pay a settlement of €61.6m over the manipulation of the Swiss franc libor rate between March 2008 and July 2009. The US bank avoided a higher fine by cooperating with the Commission’s investigation.
Commision vice president in charge of competition Joaquín Almunia said: "This is the third case where the Commission finds a cartel related to the manipulation of a financial benchmark, in which major banks colluded instead of competing with each other. Our economy needs a healthy, transparent, well-functioning financial sector. This is why antitrust rules in this sector must be strictly enforced."
In a separate ruling, JP Morgan, UBS and Credit Suisse were found to have colluded on bid-ask spreads of Swiss franc interest rate derivatives and fined, €10.5, €12.7 and €9.2 respectively.
Royal Bank of Scotland was also found to have influenced the interest rate benchmark and interest rate derivatives, however the British bank avoided a fine in both cases after it received immunity for revealing both cartels.
Almunia said of the second case: "Unlike in previous cartels we found in the financial sector, this one did not involve any collusion on a benchmark. Rather, the four banks agreed on an element of the price of certain financial derivatives. This way, the banks involved could flout the market at their competitors' expense. Cartels in the financial sector, whatever form they take, will not be tolerated."
JP Morgan and UBS also avoided a higher fine for their cooperation in the case.