The European Union (EU) increased fines for cartels 74 per cent last year to $1.6bn (£1.2bn).
Analysis released today showed that the EU was the top of the global table for cartel fines, with the amount levied increasing nearly 40 per cent from the previous year.
In May, the EU Commission hit five banks, Barclays, RBS, Citigroup, JPMorgan and MUFG, with a cumulative €1.07bn (£900m) fine for operating two cartels in the foreign exchange markets.
The banks involved are now the subject of a £1bn class action lawsuit being brought in London by entities affected by the rigging such as pension funds and asset managers.
The forex decision brings total fines imposed by the Commission in the financial services sector to over €3bn.
There are two further cases involving secondary market trading in US and European government bonds which are being looked at by the Commission and may result in more large penalties.
Philip Mansfield, a partner at law firm Allen & Overy which carried out the analysis, said: “Fine levels vary from year to year for a range of reasons. What doesn’t change is regulators’ commitment to robust cartel enforcement.”
Japan was the jurisdiction with the second-highest level of fines at $637m, followed by the US with $360m.
The level of fines imposed by the US almost doubled from the previous year, while Japan’s total was boosted by two large price fixing cases.