NEW YORK, April 1 Twelve large banks have been
sued in a consolidated antitrust lawsuit by investors who claim
they conspired to rig prices in the roughly $5.3 trillion-a-day
foreign exchange market.
Investors, including the city of Philadelphia and a variety
of pension funds and hedge funds, accused the banks of
conspiring since January 2003 in chat room discussions, instant
messages and by email to manipulate the WM/Reuters Closing Spot
The private litigation was filed on Monday night in U.S.
District Court in Manhattan; it combines several lawsuits that
have been filed since November.
Defendants are Bank of America Corp, Barclays Plc
, BNP Paribas SA, Citigroup Inc, Credit
Suisse Group AG, Deutsche Bank AG, Goldman
Sachs Group Inc, HSBC Holdings Plc, JPMorgan
Chase & Co, Morgan Stanley, Royal Bank of
Scotland Group Plc and UBS AG.
The case comes amid civil and criminal probes worldwide into
whether banks rigged prices to boost profit at the expense of
customers and investors. The Financial Stability Board, which
coordinates regulation for the Group of 20 leading economies, is
also examining possible price manipulation.
According to the complaint, the plaintiffs are customers of
the defendant banks, which together have an 84 percent global
market share and are counterparties in 98 percent of U.S. spot
The investors said employees of the defendants would use
such names as The Cartel, The Bandits' Club and The Mafia to
swap confidential customer orders and trading positions, and
collude to set prices through such tactics as "front
running/trading ahead," "banging the close" and "painting the
They also said the defendants have fired or suspended more
than 30 employees in connection with possible price-rigging
misconduct, including actions by Bank of America and BNP Paribas
Spokespeople for the banks either declined to comment or did
not immediately respond to requests for comment.
The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages, triple damages, and a
halt to alleged collusive conduct. Some of the other plaintiffs
are based in California, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Oklahoma,
Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico and the Cayman Islands.
The case is In re: Foreign Exchange Benchmark Rates
Antitrust Litigation, U.S. District Court, Southern District of
New York, No. 13-07789.
(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Leslie