EU fines UBS, Nomura and UniCredit $ 452 million over bond cartel


The flags of the European Union fly in front of the headquarters of the European Commission in Brussels, Belgium on May 5, 2021. REUTERS / Yves Herman

European Union antitrust regulators on Thursday fined UBS (UBSG.S), UniCredit (CRDI.MI) and Nomura (8604.T) on Thursday in relation with a European government bond cartel.

The sanctions are the latest to punish the financial sector for its alleged involvement in currency cartels, Euribor and Libor benchmark cartels and bond cartels.

All three banks have said in statements that they will appeal or are considering doing so.

The European Commission has said that the European government bond cartel ran from 2007 to 2011, with bank traders informing each other about their prices and volumes offered in the run-up to auctions and the prices displayed to their customers. or to the market in general via multilateral discussion forums on Bloomberg terminals.

“A well-functioning European government bond market is essential both for the euro area member states issuing these bonds in order to generate liquidity and for the investors who buy and trade them,” the European Commissioner said in competition, Margrethe Vestager, in a statement.

UBS said the fine was related to “a legacy problem” and that it has since taken steps to improve its processes.

“Considering the relevant provisions, this issue could have an impact of up to $ 100 million on UBS’s second quarter 2021 results,” he said.

UniCredit said the results showed no “wrongdoing on its part.”

“UniCredit will appeal the ruling to European courts,” the Italian bank said in a statement.

Nomura said he had introduced measures to ensure “the highest levels of integrity at all times” and that he would consider all options, including an appeal.

“Today’s decision by the European Commission and the associated fine imposed on Nomura concern the historical behavior of two former Nomura employees during a period of approximately 10 months in 2011,” he said.

The European Commission said Bank of America (BAC.N), RBS (now known as NatWest), Natixis (CNAT.PA) and WestLB (now known as Portigon) also took part in the agreement.

NatWest escaped a € 260m fine by alerting the EU competition watchdog cartel. Bank of America and Natixis were also not fined because their breach did not fall within the statute of limitations for imposing fines, the Commission said.

He said Portigon, the legal and economic successor to WestLB, was not fined because it did not generate any net sales in the last commercial year.

(1 USD = 0.8207 euros)

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