Market Manipulation – one more case

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Twelve, among the biggest banks of the world have been sued in a consolidated antitrust lawsuit by investors who claim they conspired to rig prices in the roughly $5.3 trillion-a-day foreign exchange market.

According to the complaint, the plaintiffs are customers of the defendant banks, which together have an 84 percent global market share and are counterparties in 98 percent of U.S. spot volume.

The Reuters report states that Investors, including the city of Philadelphia and a variety of pension funds and hedge funds, accused the banks of conspiring since January 2003 in chat room discussions, instant messages and by email to manipulate the WM/Reuters Closing Spot Rates.

The private litigation was filed on Monday night in U.S. District Court in Manhattan; it combines several lawsuits that have been filed since November.

The accused are Bank of America Corp, Barclays Plc, BNP Paribas SA, Citigroup Inc, Credit Suisse Group AG, Deutsche Bank AG, Goldman Sachs Group Inc, HSBC Holdings Plc,JPMorgan Chase & Co, Morgan Stanley, Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc and UBS AG.

The case comes amid civil and criminal probes worldwide into whether banks rigged prices to boost profit at the expense of customers and investors. The Financial Stability Board, which coordinates regulation for the Group of 20 leading economies, is also examining possible price manipulation.

The plaintiff also claim that the defendants have fired or suspended more than 30 employees in connection with possible price-rigging misconduct, including actions by Bank of America and BNP Paribas last month.

The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages, triple damages, and a halt to alleged collusive conduct. Some of the other plaintiffs are based in California, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico and the Cayman Islands.

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