Six of the world's biggest banks will pay $5.8 billion and five of them agreed to plead guilty to charges tied to a currency-rigging probe as they seek to wind down almost half a decade of enforcement actions.
Citicorp, JPMorgan Chase & Co., Barclays Plc and Royal Bank of Scotland Plc agreed to plead guilty to conspiring to manipulate the price of U.S. dollars and euros in settlements with the Justice Department announced in Washington Wednesday. The main banking unit of UBS Group AG agreed to plead guilty to charges related to interest-rate manipulation. The Swiss bank, the first to cooperate with antitrust investigators, was granted immunity in the currency probe.
The four banks that agreed to plead guilty to currency charges are among the world's biggest foreign-exchange traders. They were accused of colluding to influence benchmark rates by aligning positions and pushing transactions through at the same time. Traders who described themselves as members of "The Cartel" used online chat rooms to discuss their positions in the minutes before the rates were set, the Justice Department said.
"By agreeing not to buy or sell at certain times, the traders protected each other's trading positions by withholding supply of or demand for currency and suppressing competition in the FX market," the government said in a statement.
The accords bring the total fines and penalties paid by the five banks to resolve the currency investigations to about $9 billion, the Justice Department said.
In the settlement with the Justice Department, Citigroup Inc. will pay $925 million, the highest of the banks penalized. Barclays agreed to a fine of $650 million. JPMorgan will pay $550 million, and Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc agreed to a $395 million fine. UBS will pay $203 million.
Separately, the Federal Reserve imposed fines of more than $1.6 billion on the five banks for "unsafe and unsound practices." Barclays will pay an additional $1.3 billion as part of settlements with the New York Department of Financial Services, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission and the U.K.'s Financial Conduct Authority.
The Fed also fined Bank of America Corp. $205 million.