Nevada News Reporter

Swiss probe 7 banks for suspected metals market rigging

Swiss probe 7 banks for suspected metals market rigging

The global investigation of suspected manipulation of precious metals markets expanded Monday as Switzerland’s competition authority said it is investigating seven banks over potential price-fixing. The subjects include U.S. bank Morgan Stanley, Switzerland-based UBS Group and Julius Baer Group, Germany’s Deutsche Bank, England-based HSBC Holdings and Barclays, and and Japanese trading house Mitsui & Co., according to the Bern-based Weko commission.

There are “indications” the banks made deals that violate competition rules on metals market spreads —  the difference between prices offered and the market rate — for gold, silver, platinum and palladium trading, the commission said. The banks either declined to comment or said they were cooperating with the investigation. Comco deputy director Patrik Ducrey said the timing and amount of the possible damage wasn’t yet known, the Associated Press reported.

The Swiss investigation joins similar probes in Europe and the U.S. A spokesman for the European Union’s competition office last month said the watchdog agency was examining potential “anti-competitive behavior in precious metals spot trading,”.  The U.S. Department of Justice sent HSBC a request in November seeking records for a criminal investigation “in relation to precious metals,” the bank disclosed in February. The federal Commodity Futures Trading Commission subpoenaed HSBC’s U.S. division in January seeking similar documents for a civil investigation, the bank also disclosed. Additionally, Switzerland’s financial regulator in November ordered UBS to return profits totaling 134 million Swiss francs after concluding that the bank’s traders had attempted to rig precious metals prices and foreign exchange market rates.

The expanded scrutiny of precious metals trading follows similar investigations into manipulation of the world’s $5.3 trillion-a-day foreign exchange market and a global financial benchmark used to set rates on billions of dollars in mortgages, loans and credit cards. The benchmark is known as Libor, an acronym for London Interbank Offered Rate.