JPMorgan, Barclays settle Mexican bond rigging litigation

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NEW YORK (Reuters) - JPMorgan Chase & Co and Barclays Plc will pay $20.7 million to resolve investors’ claims they conspired to rig the Mexican government bond market, the first of nine banks in the proposed class-action litigation to settle.

In a Monday night filing with the U.S. District Court in Manhattan, lawyers for the investors said the “ice breaker” settlements could be a catalyst for settlements with the other bank defendants.

These defendants include affiliates of Banco Santander, Bank of America, BBVA, Citigroup, Deutsche Bank, HSBC and UBS.

JPMorgan is paying $15 million, and Barclays is paying $5.7 million. Both denied wrongdoing in agreeing to settle. Neither bank immediately responded on Tuesday to request for comment.

Investors led by several pension funds accused the defendant banks of operating as a “cartel” from January 2006 to April 2017 by sharing pricing and other transaction data, including through chatrooms, to maximize their profits at investors’ expense.

The private litigation began after Mexico’s antitrust watchdog, the Federal Economic Competition Commission (COFECE), began a probe into possible collusion.

That culminated last October in accusations against seven of the banks.

Monday’s settlements require approval by U.S. District Judge Paul Oetken. He had dismissed the lawsuit last September, but let the investors amend their complaint.

The case is In re Mexican Government Bonds Antitrust Litigation, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 18-02830.

Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by David Gregorio