HSBC, Barclays and Natwest among banks fined £293m over ‘Sterling Lads’ forex scandal
HSBC, Barclays and Natwest are among lenders fined a total of £293million for their involvement in the ‘Sterling Lads’ foreign exchange scandal.
The banks, along with Credit Suisse and UBS, were part of a ‘cartel’ which colluded to fix the prices of various foreign currencies, the European Commission found.
Traders at the banks swapped information on a chatroom called Sterling Lads, which allowed them to decide when to buy or sell the currencies they held.
HSBC, Barclays and Natwest were part of a ‘cartel’ which colluded to fix the prices of various foreign currencies, the European Commission found
This meant they could influence the price for their own gains, rather than letting independent players in the market dictate the price.
HSBC was hit with the largest fine, at £148million following a 15 per cent reduction for its help with the probe.
Barclays’ fine was £46million after being reduced by a third, and Natwest’s was £28million following a 50 per cent cut.
Credit Suisse was not given any reductions for its cooperation, and its penalty totalled £71million. UBS was let off because it blew the whistle on the cartel.
The European Commission’s competition chief Margrethe Vestager said: ‘The collusive behaviour of the five banks undermined the integrity of the financial sector at the expense of the European economy and consumers.’
Companies generally use foreign exchange traders when they need to swap large amounts of different currencies.
Natwest said its role in the scandal involved a ‘former employee’ around a decade ago.
A spokesman added: ‘Our culture and controls have changed fundamentally during the past 10 years and this kind of behaviour has no place at the bank we are today.’
Barclays and HSBC declined to comment last night.