Accused of working together to manipulate the foreign exchange market, six huge banks have been ordered to pay fines to agencies in the U.S., Britain and Switzerland totaling around $4.25 billion. U.S. firms Citigroup and JPMorgan Chase will pay the largest fines, about $1 billion each.
The fines are part of an agreement to settle civil charges, and the banks could still face criminal charges. Other banks that agreed to settle the accusations include Bank of America, UBS, the Royal Bank of Scotland, and HSBC.
"At issue is the approximately $5.3 trillion traded each day in foreign exchange – the world's biggest financial market," reports The New York Times. "The exchange rates are set daily, and traders at the big banks that are being fined, as well as other banks still under investigation, were accused of rigging the rates so that their own banks could profit."
Two U.S. agencies were involved in the civil settlement: the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, which levied more than $1.4 billion in fines, and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, which assessed $950 million.
Barclays, which has also been named in the collusion inquiry, declined to join the settlement — possibly because New York regulators withheld their approval of the deal, viewing it as too lenient, Bloomberg News reports.
"This isn't the end of the story," the head of Britain's Financial Conduct Authority Martin Wheatley tells the BBC. "The individuals themselves will face the consequences."