NEW YORK: A unit of BNP Paribas SA agreed to plead guilty and pay a $90 million criminal fine for rigging foreign currency prices, the US Department of Justice said on Friday. BNP Paribas USA admitted to having conspired to suppress competition by fixing prices for Central and Eastern European, Middle Eastern and African currencies from September 2011 to July 2013, violating US antitrust law. The Justice Department said the conspiracy involved price manipulation on an electronic trading platform through the creation of bogus trades, coordinated trading, and agreements on what prices to quote to specific customers, among other means. “BNP Paribas USA deeply regrets the past misconduct that led to this settlement, which was a clear breach of the high standards on which it operates,” the French bank said in a statement.
The settlement also resolves probes by the US Federal Reserve and the New York State Department of Financial Services, BNP Paribas said. BNP Paribas is the sixth major bank to admit criminal wrongdoing in the Justice Department’s currency probe. Barclays Plc, Citigroup Inc, JPMorgan Chase & Co, Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc and UBS Group AG have also entered guilty pleas, the Justice Department said. The six banks have collectively been fined more than $2.8 billion. The Justice Department said BNP Paribas will not be put on probation, given its “substantial” efforts to improve oversight and avoid a recurrence.— Reuters