Forex Scandal

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The Forex Scandal began in 2006 when the Bank of England's FX Joint Standing Committee discussed "evidence of attempts to move the market around popular fixing times by players that had no particular interest in that fix. It was noted that 'fixing business' generally was becoming increasingly fraught due to this behaviour." [1] The scandal truly broke, however, in June of 2013 when Bloomberg reported that electronic chat rooms were being used to manipulate Forex benchmarks. The scandal would culminate in a $5.7 billion fine on five banks on May 20th, 2015.[2]

Background

Amidst other institutional scandals, notably the LIBOR scandal, it emerged that electronic chat rooms were being used to fix Forex benchmarks. Bloomberg first reported the story in June of 2013, and it since grew into a major international scandal.[3] Traders would use the chat rooms to move benchmark rates at the same time right before the 4pm fix. This collusion would net the traders profits on their FX trading. The FCA and the US Department of Justice began criminal inquires into the scandal in 2013. The scandal led to billions of dollars in fines, including the biggest UK bank fine in history leveled at Barclays, as well as guilty pleas from several major banks.[4]

Banks Involved in Scandal

The probe into the scandal implicated:

Timeline of Events

In reverse chronological order:

  • May 20th, 2015 Barclays, BoA, RBS, and JP Morgan Chase plead guilty to felony charges and are fined $5.7 billion by U.S. Regulators [5]
  • November 2014, $4.3 Billion of fines were handed down by US, Swiss, and UK regulators [6]
  • September 2014, FCA concludes investigation [7]
  • October 2013, US and UK authorities begin investigations into forex scandal
  • June of 2013, Bloomberg reports that traders used electronic chat rooms to manipulate benchmarks[8]


Table of Fines

Bank Name Total US Fine Total Fines
HSBC $275,000,000 $618,000,000
B.o.A $455,000,000 $455,000,000
Citigroup $1,927,000,000 $2,285,000,000
RBS $959,000,000 $1,303,000,000
JP Morgan $1,552,000,000 $1,904,000,000
Barclays $1,937,000,000 $2,378,000,000
UBS $835,000,000 $1,345,000,000
[9]

References

  1. TIMELINE-The FX "fixing" scandal. Reuters.
  2. Record Fines for Currency Market Fix. BBC.
  3. Barclays handed biggest bank fine in UK history over 'brazen' currency rigging. The Telegraph UK.
  4. Record Fines for Currency Market Fix. BBC.
  5. Record Fines for Currency Market Fix. BBC.
  6. Regulators slap $4.3bn fines on six banks in global forex probe. Financial Times.
  7. Barclays handed biggest bank fine in UK history over 'brazen' currency rigging. The Telegraph UK.
  8. Barclays handed biggest bank fine in UK history over 'brazen' currency rigging. The Telegraph UK.
  9. Bank FX Fine Scorecard. Bloomberg.