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Currency-rigging lawsuit settlements rise past $2 billion: lawyer

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08/13/2015 | 07:37pm EDT
U.S. one dollar bills blow in this photo illustration near the Andalusian capital of Seville

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Investors have recovered more than $2 billion in settlements with nine banks over claims of price-rigging in the foreign exchange market, and are continuing to pursue claims against seven other banks, a lawyer for the plaintiffs said Thursday.

HSBC Holdings Plc (>> HSBC Holdings plc), Barclays Plc (>> Barclays PLC), BNP Paribas SA (>> BNP PARIBAS) and Goldman Sachs Group Inc (>> Goldman Sachs Group Inc) are among the latest banks to reach settlement in the class action litigation, Christopher Burke, the lawyer, said in federal court in Manhattan.

Those banks and five others have agreed to provide "substantial cooperation" as the plaintiffs pursue claims against seven other defendants accused of manipulating prices in the $5.4 trillion-per-day foreign exchange market, Burke said.

"We look forward if necessary to litigating through trial," Burke said in an interview after the hearing.

Michael Hausfeld, Burke's co-counsel, called the deals "just the beginning," saying he is being consulted about bringing cases overseas regarding conduct in the larger Asian and European markets.

Both lawyers declined to say much each bank would pay. Goldman Sachs will pay $129.5 million, a person familiar with the matter said.

The Wall Street Journal in June reported that HSBC would pay $285 million while Barclays would pay $375 million. Those numbers remain unconfirmed, and the banks on Thursday either declined comment or did not respond to requests for comment.

The plaintiffs previously announced $808.5 million settlements with four banks, while Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc (>> Royal Bank of Scotland Group plc) in May disclosed reaching a deal without announcing the terms.

Investors including hedge funds and pension funds accused the banks of impeding competition by conspiring to manipulate the WM/Reuters Closing Spot Rates in chat rooms, instant messages and emails.

According to the plaintiffs, traders at the banks used chat rooms with names such as "The Cartel," "The Bandits' Club," and "The Mafia" to communicate with each other.

They said traders manipulated prices through tactics such as "front running," "banging the close" and "painting the screen," using disguised names to swap confidential orders.

The settlements came after four of the banks - Citigroup Inc (>> Citigroup Inc), JPMorgan Chase & Co (>> JPMorgan Chase & Co.), Barclays and RBS - pleaded guilty in May in related criminal cases.

In total, U.S. and European regulators have extracted more than $10 billion in settlements with seven banks over the alleged manipulation schemes.

In the class action, previously announced settlements include $99.5 million from JPMorgan, $394 million from Citigroup, $180 million from Bank of America Corp (>> Bank of America Corp) and $135 million from UBS AG (>> UBS AG).

The case is In re: Foreign Exchange Benchmark Rates Antitrust Litigation, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 13-07789.

(Reporting by Nate Raymond in New York; Editing by David Gregorio and Leslie Adler)

By Nate Raymond

Stocks mentioned in the article
ChangeLast1st jan.
BANK OF AMERICA -0.77% 29.59 Delayed Quote.20.09%
BARCLAYS PLC 0.70% 151.54 Delayed Quote.0.68%
BNP PARIBAS 1.22% 45.295 Real-time Quote.14.74%
CITIGROUP INC. -0.55% 69.35 Delayed Quote.33.21%
EXCHANGE 1.69% 45 Delayed Quote.0.00%
GOLDMAN SACHS GROUP INC -0.69% 213.74 Delayed Quote.27.95%
HSBC HOLDINGS PLC -0.06% 615.6 Delayed Quote.-4.84%
ROYAL BANK OF SCOTLAND GROUP 2.64% 213.5 Delayed Quote.-1.48%
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