October 14, 2019 / 2:11 PM / a month ago

Mexico probes suspected rigging of government bond trading

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Some participants in Mexico’s financial market are under investigation on suspicion of engaging in “absolute monopolistic practices” in the brokerage market for Mexican government debt, the country’s antitrust watchdog said on Monday.

The Federal Economic Competition Commission (Cofece) said in a brief statement an unspecified number of suspects had been summoned to shed light on what the watchdog described as efforts to manipulate the price of Mexican sovereign debt.

“Now they have the right to present their defense,” Sergio Lopez, head of the investigative unit of Mexico’s Federal Economic Competition Commission (Cofece), told Reuters in an interview.

Lopez declined to provide details on the names and number of “economic agents” involved in the investigation, which began in October 2016. He said the suspects would have 45 business days to offer evidence to the regulator, which could issue a resolution next year.

In early 2017, Cofece said the investigation covered both primary placements of securities as well as operations carried out in the secondary market between 2006 and 2016.

Market makers authorized by the government are BBVA Bancomer, Barclays, Banco Santander, HSBC, Banamex, JP Morgan and Bank of America, according to the finance ministry.

Santander Mexico said in a statement on Monday it will respond to the regulator and offer evidence showing it did not engage in anti-competitive practices.

Reporting by Noe Torres; additional reporting by Dave Graham and Abraham Gonzalez; Editing by Kevin Liffey and Tom Brown

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