One of the law firms that secured a $2bn settlement in the US over allegations of foreign exchange price manipulation filed a collective action in the UK on Wednesday, alleging that six banks participated in “unlawful” forex cartels.
Hausfeld, a specialist litigation firm, announced it started a collective action at the Competition Appeal Tribunal in London against Barclays, Citibank, the Royal Bank of Scotland, JPMorgan, UBS and MUFG Bank, alleging the banks acted unlawfully when trading certain currencies.
Citibank, JPMorgan, MUFG and UBS declined to comment. RBS and Barclays did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
It is the second such claim to be launched this year. In July, law firm Scott+Scott launched a European version of the billion-dollar US lawsuit, alleging that five banks manipulated currency prices. Hausfeld and Scott+Scott were co-leads on the US class action claim.
The two cases come after the EU’s competition watchdog levied a €1bn fine on the five banks that are pursued in the latest case. There are a few differences between the two claims, including the number of banks the action is being brought against and the scope of the transactions being included.
The Hausfeld collective action is led by Phil Evans, a former Competition and Markets Authority inquiry chair, who said he was seeking to represent the interests of thousands of participants in the foreign exchange market.
“The European Commission fined these banks more than €1bn for their wrongdoing. But that should not be where this ends,” added Mr Evans. “The fines do not go to those affected by the cartels. Through this action, we want to hold the banks accountable for their actions and secure compensation for affected customers.”
The legal action is focused on spot and forward trades in the British pound, euro, Japanese yen, Swiss franc, US dollar, Canadian dollar, New Zealand dollar, Australian dollar, Danish krone, Norwegian krone and Swedish krona.
The US class-action lawsuit alleged that dealers at 15 banks colluded to fix prices in currency markets between 2007 and 2013. Credit Suisse remains the only bank challenging the claims, while the other 14 have settled for a total of $2.3bn.
The lawsuits were sparked by press reports that some traders were conspiring to manipulate the WM/Reuters currency benchmark in a number of Bloomberg chat rooms. Dozens of senior trading staff have been fired in connection with the ensuing global regulatory probe that resulted in more than $10bn of fines.
A number of traders faced criminal charges in the US, with one former HSBC currencies head still fighting a conviction, while three traders who were members of the so-called “Cartel” chatroom were acquitted after a jury trial last year.
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