July 31, 2018 / 9:35 PM / 16 days ago

UPDATE 1-Credit Suisse charged with rigging foreign exchange rates

(Adds comment by European Commission)

By Foo Yun Chee

BRUSSELS, July 31 (Reuters) - Credit Suisse has been charged by European Union antitrust regulators with rigging foreign exchange rates, a sign that the five-year-long EU investigation may reach a conclusion in the coming months.

Credit Suisse said on Tuesday in its quarterly report it received notification from the EU executive on July 26 alleging that it “engaged in anticompetitive practices in connection with its foreign exchange trading business”.

The European Commission confirmed on Tuesday that it had sent a charge sheet.

EU enforcers typically lay out charges of illegal activities conducted by companies before imposing fines which can reach 10 percent of their global turnover.

“As per the usual practice in cartel cases, we cannot indicate at this point to which companies the Statement of Objections has been addressed,” spokesman Ricardo Cardoso told Reuters in an email.

A number of banks are under investigation on suspicion of manipulating foreign exchange rates, with several ready to admit wrongdoing in exchange for a cut in their fines, people familiar with the matter told Reuters. They did not name the companies.

In a regulatory filing last year, HSBC said it was under EU investigation related to its foreign exchange activities.

BNP Paribas has also received a questionnaire from the Commission on possible collusion among financial institutions to manipulate certain benchmark currency exchange rates, according to a 2017 regulatory filing.

Other banks have confirmed investigations by various competition agencies without naming them.

The Commission in recent years handed down hefty fines to several banks for rigging benchmark interest rates. (Reporting by Foo Yun Chee in Brussels Editing by Emelia Sithole-Matarise and Matthew Lewis)

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