AMSTERDAM - The European Commission has fined a group of major global banks a total of 1.7 billion euros ($2.3 billion) for colluding to profit from the manipulation of key interest rates.
The banks that received fines, which include JPMorgan, Citigroup and Deutsche Bank, are accused of manipulating for years European and Japanese benchmark interest rates that affect hundreds of billions of dollars in contracts globally, from mortgages to credit card bills.
Switzerland's UBS bank escaped a whopping 2.5 billion-euro fine only because it informed the Commission, the EU's executive arm, of a cartel's existence and cooperated with the subsequent investigation.
In this Aug. 9, 2012 file photo the logo of Swiss UBS bank is pictured under dark clouds in Zurich, Switzerland. The European Commission has fined a group of major global banks a total of 1.7 billion euros (US dollar 2.3 billion) for colluding to profit from the interest rates market as it was announced Wednesday.
"We want to send a clear message that we are determined to find and punish these cartels," competition commissioner Joaquin Almunia said Wednesday.
The Commission is only the latest to punish banks for profiting from manipulating interest rates, after similar cases brought by U.S. and national European market regulators.
The banks regularly contribute data to help compile market interest rates, which are then used as benchmarks for loans in the wider economy. The banks are thought to have profited by cooperating to fix the rates higher or lower depending on whether they - or their clients - held investments in derivatives that stood to gain.