Big banks face both criminal charges and civil lawsuits over 4pm fix currency probe

FCA hints that criminal charges are coming; Asset Managers launching lawsuits.

So far, the major fallout of the investigations launched by several national financial regulators into the rigging of the global currency market — specifically into the way the daily 4pm cross currency fix is set — has been limited to some bad press for the banks involved and some suspensions and layoffs of certain junior and senior FX execs.

Not pleasant, but nothing too concerning for some of the world’s leading financial institutions.

But much more serious consequences appear to be around the corner.

First, legal.

In the UK, Reuters reports that the FCA CEO Martin Wheatley stated that while the current investigation may stretch into next year (2015), that the charges being looked at were “every bit as bad” as the Libor fixing scandal which cost banks nearly $6 billion in fines. And regulators and police are cooperating in several countries looking at specific criminal activity involved.

And nothing hurts the banks more than, well, money.

On that note, the FT reports that the Newport News Employees Retirement Fund has filed a class action lawsuit against seven banks — Barclays, JP Morgan, Citigroup, Deutsche Bank, RBS, HSBC and UBS — claiming that it was injured as a result of the banks’ anti-competitive conduct.

Newport claims that the banks used their knowledge of their clients’ forthcoming transactions to reap enormous profits at their clients’ expense.

According to the FT, the banks could be liable for up to $10 billion of damages to the asset management industry, citing an unnamed analyst specializing in complex financial losses.

Newport is the sixth pension fund to have filed for damages over the 4pm forex fixing since November.

This is likely to get a lot worse before it gets better. Stay tuned to LeapRate…

For more on the global Forex industry see the LeapRate-Dow Jones Forex Industry Report.

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