Goldman, JP Morgan Among 16 Banks Targeted by EU in Swaps Probe
By Aoife White and Jim Brunsden - Bloomberg
Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS), JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM) and 14 other investment banks face the first-ever European Union antitrust probes into the swaps market, following investigations by U.S. regulators.
The EU is examining whether 16 banks, including Citigroup Inc. (C) and Deutsche Bank AG (DBK), colluded by giving market information to Markit Group Ltd., a data provider majority-owned by Wall Street’s largest banks. It will also check if nine of the firms struck unfair deals with Intercontinental Exchange Inc.’s European derivatives clearinghouse, shutting out rivals.
“Lack of transparency in markets can lead to abusive behavior and facilitate violations of competition rules,” Joaquin Almunia, the EU’s competition commissioner, said in an e-mailed statement. “I hope our investigation will contribute to a better functioning of financial markets.”
Global regulators have sought to toughen regulation of the $583 trillion credit-default swaps market, saying the trades helped fuel the financial crisis. The EU’s probes add to separate investigations in the U.K. and U.S. into whether banks colluded to manipulate the London interbank offered rate.
The credit-default swap investigations are the first by antitrust regulators in Europe. The U.S. Justice Department’s probe of the credit derivatives clearing, trading and information services industries is “ongoing,” spokeswoman Alisa Finelli said today. The department first confirmed the investigation in July 2009. She declined to comment further.
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