Nomura, UBS, UniCredit fined 371 mln euros over bonds trading cartel
Italy’s UniCredit (CRDI.MI) said it would appeal to the European Courts and UBS (UBSG.S) said it was considering doing so after EU antitrust regulators handed out fines totalling 371 million euros ($452 million) in connection with a European government bonds trading cartel.
Nomura (9716.T), which was also fined, was not immediately available for comment.
The penalties are the latest to hit the financial industry for alleged involvement in foreign exchange cartels, Euribor and Libor benchmark cartels, and bonds cartels.
“The group vigorously contests the decision and maintains that the findings do not demonstrate any wrongdoing on the part of UniCredit. UniCredit will appeal the decision before the European Courts,” UniCredit said in a statement.
In an emailed statement, UBS said it was considering an appeal. The fine related to “a legacy issue,” it said, and it had since taken action to improve its processes.
“Taking into account relevant provisions, this matter may have an impact of up to $100 million on UBS’s second quarter 2021 results,” it said.
The European Commission said Bank of America (BAC.N), RBS (now known as NatWest), Natixis (CNAT.PA) and WestLB (now known as Portigon) also took part in the cartel.
NatWest escaped a 260-million-euro fine as it alerted the cartel to the EU competition watchdog. Bank of America and Natixis were also not fined either because their infringement falls outside the limitation period for imposition of fines, the Commission said.
It said Portigon, the legal and economic successor to WestLB, received a zero fine as it did not generate any net turnover in the last business year.
“A well-functioning European government bonds market is paramount both for the eurozone member states issuing these bonds to generate liquidity and the investors buying and trading them,” European Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said in a statement.
The Commission said the cartel ran from 2007 to 2011, with traders from the banks informing each other on their prices and volumes offered in the run-up to the auctions and the prices shown to their customers or to the market in general via multilateral chatrooms on Bloomberg terminals.
($1 = 0.8207 euros)
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