Swiss competition watchdog probes seven major banks over metals market manipulation

Several major banks, including Switzerland’s UBS Group AG (VTX:UBSG) and Julius Baer Gruppe AG (VTX:BAER), as well as foreign banks Deutsche Bank AG (ETR:DBK), HSBC Holdings plc (LON:HSBA), Barclays PLC (LON:BARC), Morgan Stanley (NYSE:MS) and Mitsui & Co Ltd (TYO:8031), are in the hot water again – this time, over alleged collusion to manipulate prices in the precious metals market.

According to a report by the Wall Street Journal, the Swiss Competition Commission is investigating the banks over the possible manipulation of the prices of gold, silver and other precious metals.

The authority suspects possible illegal competition agreements among the banks to coordinate prices, the WSJ report says.

The investigation is set to be finalized in either 2016 or 2017, said Patrik Ducrey, director of the Swiss competition commission. He, however, refused to disclose the value of the trades involved in the suspected collusion.

The Swiss laws envisage a maximum penalty of 10% of revenue for the banks, in case the allegations against them are confirmed and they indeed violated Switzerland’s competition laws.

The fresh investigation comes about a year after several major banks, including some of the targets of the current Swiss probe, were issued heavy fines by US, UK and Swiss regulators over Forex market manipulation.

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