Citigroup Inc and JPMorgan Chase & Co agreed in principle to settle an antitrust lawsuit for $182.5 million, pending a US District Court judge’s okay. A U.S. investor claimed the two banking and investment giants colluded to manipulate the European Interbank Offered Rate (Euribor), an otherwise important rate benchmark.
Citigroup, JPMorgan Settle Antitrust Lawsuit for $182.5
Sullivan et al v. Barclays Plc et al, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 13-02811 is reportedly all but settled as far as JPMorgan and Citi are concerned. Reuters claims the two “will pay $182.5 million to settle U.S. investor litigation claiming they violated antitrust law by conspiring with other banks to rig a key European interest rate benchmark.”
This brings the total to nearly half of a dozen banks brought to pay heavy fines in the case, inching close to half a billion dollars in all. Prior agreements “of $170 million by Deutsche Bank AG, $94 million by Barclays Plc and $45 million by HSBC Holdings Plc.,” have been already reached, according to Reuters.
This comes just weeks after yet another huge lawsuit alleging collusion and manipulation by investment banks saw BlackRock Inc. break off and go after more than a dozen institutions for roughly similar issues, as these pages reported. Both JPMorgan and Citi were also named.
Making a Distraction Go Away
The Euribor is similar to that of the Libor, key in setting rates on fantastic sums of dollars in debt, from consumer credit to housing to even student loans. “Investors including the California State Teachers’ Retirement System (CalSTRS) pension fund accused banks of rigging Euribor and fixing prices of Euribor-based derivatives from June 2005 to March 2011 to profit at their expense,” Reuters explained.
As is usually the case, neither bank admitted to guilt, and will probably claim something along the lines of the settlement being a cost-to-benefit play, making a distraction essentially go away.
“JPMorgan this week reached a separate $7 million settlement of investor claims that it conspired with rivals to rig the Australian Bank Bill Swap Reference Rate, becoming the first bank to settle that litigation,” according to Reuters.
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