A federal judge on Wednesday said U.S. investors may pursue a nationwide antitrust lawsuit accusing 12 major banks of rigging prices in the $5.3 trillion-a-day foreign exchange market.
U.S. District Judge Lorna Schofield in Manhattan rejected the defendants’ arguments that the case should be dismissed because of a lack of evidence that they colluded to manipulate the WM/Reuters Closing Spot Rates, known as the Fix, or that they impeded competition and caused harm.
“Fairly read, the U.S. complaint adequately alleges that defendants engaged in a long-running conspiracy to manipulate the Fix to defendants’ advantage,” Schofield wrote in a 30-page decision.
The bank defendants include Bank of America Corp (>> Bank of America Corp), Barclays Plc (>> Barclays PLC), BNP Paribas SA (>> BNP PARIBAS), Citigroup Inc (>> Citigroup Inc), Credit Suisse Group AG (>> Credit Suisse Group AG), Deutsche Bank AG (>> Deutsche Bank AG), Goldman Sachs Group Inc (>> Goldman Sachs Group Inc), HSBC Holdings Plc (>> HSBC Holdings plc), JPMorgan Chase & Co (>> JPMorgan Chase & Co.), Morgan Stanley (>> Morgan Stanley), Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc (>> Royal Bank of Scotland Group plc) and UBS AG <UBSG.S>.
According to the 2013 lawsuit, these banks have held an 84 percent global market share in currency trading, and were counterparties in 98 percent of U.S. spot volume.
The lawsuit is separate from criminal and civil probes worldwide into whether banks rigged currency rates to boost profit at the expense of customers and investors.
In the complaint, investors including the city of Philadelphia, hedge funds and public pension funds accused the banks of having conspired since January 2003 in chat rooms, instant messages and emails to manipulate the Fix.