EU fines banks including Barclays, NatWest and HSBC £293m for currency 'cartel'

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The EU has fined banks, including Barclays, NatWest and HSBC, a total of €344m (£293m) for roles in an alleged foreign exchange spot trading cartel.

The European Commission said the UK-based banks agreed to settle the case, alongside UBS which avoided a penalty because it had blown the whistle on the activity.

HSBC's fine was the largest at €174.3m (£148m) while its Canary Wharf-based neighbour Barclays was to pay €54.3m (£46m).

NatWest - which was known by its former RBS Group name at the time - faces a €32.5m (£28m) bill.

Credit Suisse was the other bank to be handed a fine - of €83m (£71m).

The EU's competition regulator said the cartel had focused on forex spot trading of G10 currencies.

The Commission's competition chief, Margrethe Vestager, said: "Today we complete our sixth cartel investigation in the financial sector since 2013 and conclude the third leg of our investigation into the foreign exchange spot trading market.

"Our cartel decisions to fine UBS, Barclays, RBS, HSBC and Credit Suisse send a clear message that the Commission remains committed to ensure a sound and competitive financial sector that is essential for investment and growth.

"Foreign exchange spot trading activities are one of the largest financial markets in the world. The collusive behaviour of the five banks undermined the integrity of the financial sector at the expense of the European economy and consumers".

The fines are the latest to hit banks, which have received billions of pounds worth of penalties worldwide since the financial crisis of 2008 for the rigging of benchmarks used in many day-to-day financial transactions.

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