October 14, 2014 / 6:30 PM / 5 years ago

Silver price-fixing lawsuits consolidated in Manhattan federal court

Oct 14 (Reuters) - Litigation alleging that Deutsche Bank AG , Bank of Nova Scotia and HSBC Plc illegally fixed the price of silver has been centralized in Manhattan federal court.

Lawsuits filed by investors since July over the alleged price-fixing were consolidated on Tuesday in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, following an order issued last Thursday by the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation, a special body of federal judges that decides when and where to consolidate related lawsuits.

The panel ruled that the cases should be handled by U.S. District Judge Valerie Caproni in Manhattan, who is already overseeing similar litigation over alleged gold price-fixing.

Three suits were originally filed in Manhattan, while two were filed in Brooklyn. The plaintiffs in the Brooklyn suits had sought to have the litigation consolidated there.

The banks had also asked that the litigation be consolidated in the Eastern District of New York in Brooklyn, but the multidistrict litigation panel said Manhattan made more sense because the defendants all had corporate offices there and because the cases involved issues similar to the gold litigation.

The plaintiffs allege that the banks abused their power as participants in the silver fix, a London-based benchmark pricing method dating back to the Victorian era, in which banks set silver prices once a day by phone. In August, the system was replaced by a new benchmark system administered by the Chicago Mercantile Exchange and Thomson Reuters.

HSBC spokesman Neil Brazil declined to comment.

Representatives of the other banks did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The case is In re London Silver Fixing Ltd Antitrust Litigation, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 1:14-md-02573. (Reporting by Brendan Pierson in New York; editing by Alexia Garamfalvi and Matthew Lewis)

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