NEW YORK (Reuters) - Credit Suisse Group AG (CSGN.S) on Monday agreed to pay $135 million to New York to resolve a probe of misconduct in its foreign exchange business, which the state’s banking regulator said deceived customers to enhance its own profits.
Credit Suisse traders improperly shared information to manipulate currency prices and benchmark rates, and took advantage of its electronic trading platform to trade ahead of known client orders, the New York State Department of Financial Services said.
Switzerland’s second-biggest bank engaged in “unsound conduct” from at least 2008 to 2015 by failing to control its foreign exchange business, the regulator said.
Credit Suisse said it was “pleased to have reached a settlement with the DFS that allows the bank to put this matter behind it,” and said it did not admit to any findings.
The agreement is the latest in a string of global regulatory settlements with big Wall Street banks over forex trading practices.
Rivals including Citigroup Inc (C.N), JPMorgan Chase & Co (JPM.N), Barclays PLC (BARC.L), and Royal Bank of Scotland PLC (RBS.L) collectively paid $10 billion in 2014 and 2015 to settle probes by U.S. and European authorities that their forex traders coordinated to cheat clients and boost their own profits.
Since 2014, New York has been investigating whether banks under its aegis used algorithms on their trading platforms to front-run or otherwise manipulate foreign exchange rates.
Credit Suisse, like numerous other foreign banks, operates in the United States through foreign branches that are licensed and regulated by New York state.
Earlier this year, French bank BNP Paribas agreed to pay New York $350 million to settle similar claims, and Barclays paid $635 million in 2015.
The probe is still ongoing in relation to other banks, according to a person familiar with the matter.
In a statement, DFS Superintendent Maria Vullo blamed Credit Suisse’s conduct on executives who “deliberately fostered a corrupt culture that failed to implement effective controls.”
As part of its settlement, Credit Suisse agreed to improve its controls and compliance, and retain a consultant to review its remedial efforts for at least a year.
Like other banks, Credit Suisse foreign exchange traders used chat rooms to share confidential customer information, coordinate trades and try to manipulate currencies or benchmark rates, DFS said.
Through these communications, the traders were able to trade ahead of clients, or use a tactic called “building ammo,” with which they coordinated activity with other traders to ensure they were not taking positions that would hurt one another, the regulator said.
Reporting by Karen Freifeld; Writing by Lauren Tara LaCapra; Editing by Paul Simao and Tom Brown