U.S. judge dismisses most of Euribor-rigging lawsuit

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A U.S. judge on Tuesday dismissed most of an investor lawsuit accusing several major banks of conspiring to manipulate the benchmark European Interbank Offered Rate, or Euribor, and related derivatives.

In a 100-page decision, U.S. District Judge Kevin Castel in Manhattan said several claims in the proposed class action must fail because of a lack of evidence that the defendants conspired to restrain trade or because they involved foreign conduct.

He also said only two of the six plaintiffs had antitrust standing: the California State Teachers’ Retirement System (CalSTRS), one of the world’s largest public pension funds; and Greenwich, Connecticut-based FrontPoint Australian Opportunities Trust.

The judge said investors may pursue one antitrust claim and two common law claims against Citigroup Inc C.N and JPMorgan Chase & Co JPM.N.

Citigroup spokesman Rob Julavits and JPMorgan spokeswoman Jessica Francisco declined to comment. Lawyers for the plaintiffs did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Other defendants included Credit Agricole SA CAGR.PA, Rabobank NA, Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc RBS.L, Societe Generale SA SOGN.PA and UBS AG UBSG.S, as well as electronic broker-dealer ICAP Plc.

Barclays Plc BARC.L and HSBC Holdings Plc HSBA.L previously settled for a respective $94 million and $45 million, while claims against Deutsche Bank AG DBKGn.DE were put on hold and BNP Paribas SA BNPP.PA was dismissed as a defendant, court records show.

Euribor is the euro-denominated equivalent of Libor, a benchmark for setting rates on hundreds of trillions of dollars of debt, including for credit cards, student loans and mortgages.

The defendants were accused of violating the Sherman Act, a U.S. antitrust law, by conspiring to rig Euribor and fix prices of Euribor-based derivatives from June 2005 to March 2011 to benefit their own positions.

Regulators have imposed more than $4 billion in penalties against the defendants for alleged manipulation, Judge Castel said.

The surviving antitrust claim concerned the alleged coordinated submission of false quotes to the European Banking Federation trade group and to Thomson Reuters, “pushing cash” to manipulate Euribor, and transmission of “spoof” bids. Neither the EBF nor Thomson Reuters is a defendant.

Many lawsuits in the federal court in Manhattan seek to hold banks liable for alleged rigging in interest rate, commodity, currency and other financial markets.

The case is Sullivan et al v. Barclays Plc et al, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 13-02811.

Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Lisa Shumaker and Jonathan Oatis