(Adds background on the lawsuits)
By Andrew Longstreth
NEW YORK Aug 13 A federal judicial panel on Wednesday ordered that 18 lawsuits alleging a conspiracy to manipulate gold prices be consolidated into one proceeding in New York.
The cases will be sent to U.S. District Judge Valerie Caproni in Manhattan, who has already been overseeing more than two dozen cases.
The lawsuits name the multinational banks that make up the London Gold Market Fixing Ltd, the company operating the global gold price benchmark known as the 'fix'.
The century-old gold fix is a standard price for the metal that the banks set twice a day over the telephone. A variety of gold traders claim they were harmed by a scheme to manipulate the fix.
Sending the cases to Caproni of New York appeared to be a relatively easy decision for the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation, which considers requests to consolidate related lawsuits in U.S. federal courts.
Only one of the 18 lawsuits was not filed in New York, according to the panel.
Bank of Nova Scotia, HSBC, Societe Generale and Barclays make up the London Gold Market Fixing Ltd.
Deutsche Bank withdrew in May after two decades but is still a party to the suits. (Reporting by Andrew Longstreth; Editing by James Dalgleish and Nick Zieminski)