JPMorgan Chase & Co, HSBC Holdings and Credit Agricole have been accused by the European Union’s antitrust arm of colluding to manipulate interbank lending rates.
The three banks have received antitrust complaints alleging they participated in a cartel to rig Euribor. The so-called statement of objections is the next step in the EU enforcement process after the lenders dropped out of settlement talks last year. The European Commission said in a statement that it has concerns that the three banks may have taken part in a collusive scheme which aimed at distorting the normal course of pricing components for euro interest rate derivatives. While six financial firms, including Societe Generale, agreed in December to a combined record of 1.7 billion euros ($2.3 billion) in fines in the Euribor case and a similar yen Libor probe, the regulator’s attempt to get a clean sweep of settlements was ruined by the dropouts. The EU’s case was further undermined when Societe Generale appealed its penalty in the courts. JPMorgan and HSBC said in separate statements that they would defend themselves against the EU allegations.