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Citigroup to pay $425 million over attempted benchmark manipulation

Photo Credit Mike Mozart
Photo Credit Mike Mozart

(Sarah N. Lynch)  Citigroup Inc has agreed to pay $425 million to resolve civil charges by the Commodities Futures Trading Commission it tried to manipulate foreign exchange and interest rate benchmarks, the latest settlement in ongoing international probes of global banks.

Citigroup affiliates were also charged with false reporting in connection with ISDAFIX benchmark rates and with false reporting of U.S. dollar Libor rates during the financial crisis to protect its reputation, the CFTC said on Wednesday, adding that the various actions occurred between 2007 and 2012.

With the Citigroup settlement, the CFTC said it has imposed more than $5 billion in penalties in 17 actions against banks and brokers for manipulating benchmarks for interest rates and foreign exchange.

The benchmarks including the U.S. dollar ISDAFIX for fixed interest rate swaps, the Yen Libor and the Euroyen Tibor.

Banks use the London Interbank Offered Rate (Libor) and Tokyo Interbank Offered Rate (Tibor) to set the cost of borrowing from each other. Libor is often used to set rates on such things as credit cards and mortgages.

“These settlements represent a significant step for Citi in resolving its legacy benchmark rate investigations,” Citi spokeswoman Danielle Romero-Apsilos said in a statement.

The bank said it has made “substantial” investments to guard against “inappropriate behavior,” Romero-Apsilos said.

Citigroup said it has taken reserves to cover the costs of the settlement.

In May 2015, Barclays Plc was fined $115 million by the CFTC to settle an investigation into the setting of the ISDAFIX benchmark.

Earlier this month, seven of the world’s biggest banks agreed to pay $324 million to settle a private U.S. lawsuit accusing them of rigging an interest rate benchmark used in the $553 trillion derivatives market.

The deal resolves antitrust claims against Bank of America Corp , Barclays, Citigroup, Credit Suisse Group AG , Deutsche Bank AG , JPMorgan Chase & Co and Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc <.

In the private cases, several pension funds and municipalities had accused 14 banks, including those that settled, of conspiring to rig the ISDAFIX benchmark for their own gain from at least 2009 to 2012.

Citigroup shares were up 1.8 percent to $46.70, following a broadly higher market.