Q and A: What are these fines for?

Q Why have these banks had to pay €1.7bn to the European Commission?
A The banks’ traders were found to have colluded to fiddle interest rates. They would contact other traders in other banks and decide where to push benchmark interest rates. They have paid up to settle the EC’s antitrust claims against them.

Q I thought it was only a handful of traders involved, how is corporate law involved?
A Antitrust law covers competition and collusion, and is used against misbehaving companies. But although it was only a few individuals here and their bosses did not know what was going on, the company is still treated as culpable. That is in part because the competition that is meant to operate did not, regardless of who was to blame.

Q Are the fines over yet?
A No. This case has further to run – JP Morgan, HSBC and Credit Agricole are fighting claims their traders were involved in the Euribor cartels. And other authorities including the Swiss regulators and Japan’s watchdogs are carrying out their own investigations.