Saturday

17th Nov 2018

Banks rigged €10 trillion derivatives market, Brussels says

  • The Deutsch Borse was shut out of the derivatives market between 2006-2009 (Photo: stefan)

Thirteen big banks colluded to shut out competition from the multi-trillion euro derivatives market, according to an investigation by the European Commission.

The EU's executive arm said that its investigation, which began in 2011, had uncovered anti-competitive practices during the 2008-9 financial crisis.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

The commission investigation focuses on the credit default swap (CDS) market which allows banks and businesses to hedge against possible losses. However, more controversially, they were used by Goldman Sachs and others to speculate on the probability of a Greek debt crisis in 2010.

There are almost 2 million active CDS contracts with a joint notional amount of €10 trillion worldwide.

Most CDS contracts are negotiated privately between so-called 'over the counter' derivatives. However, critics of the practice say that the lack of transparency distorts the market and increases the risk of the parties being unable to meet their obligations.

EU lawmakers adopted legislation on derivatives trading in 2012 requiring all trades to be cleared through an exchange, making the practice more transparent and reducing risk.

The banks allegedly coordinated their behaviour to jointly prevent the Deutsch Bourse stock market and the Chicago Mercantile Exchange from being issued licenses allowing them to enter the CDS market. The two exchanges were allegedly shut out of the market between 2006 and 2009, covering the end of the credit boom and the financial crisis in 2008-9.

In a statement issued on Monday (1 July) the commission commented that its preliminary conclusion was that the banks had "delayed the emergence of exchange trading of these financial products because they feared that it would reduce their revenues."

The banks involved include a handful of Europe's largest financial institutions such as Barclays, BNP Paribas, Deutsche Bank and the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS).

The UK-based Barclays and RBS were also involved in last year's Libor rate-fixing scandal which saw a handful of big banks rig the interest rate at which banks lend to each other, driving up the price of financial products to customers.

Speaking to journalists on Monday (1 July) EU competition chief Joaquin Almunia warned that fines would be meted out if the market manipulation was confirmed.

EU anti-trust rules allow the Commission to impose fines worth up to 10 percent of a firms annual turnover.

"Exchange trading of credit derivatives improves market transparency and stability," he added, in a nod to the new EU rules.

Italy defiant on budget on eve of EU deadline

Italy would be committing economic "suicide" if it fell in line with EU rules, its deputy leader has said, in a sign that Rome has little intention of bowing to pressure ahead of Tuesday's budget deadline.

News in Brief

  1. US warns EU banks and firms against trading with Iran
  2. Merkel urged Romania not to move embassy to Jerusalem
  3. Protesters call for Czech leader to step down
  4. Former German chancellor labelled 'enemy' of Ukraine
  5. French lead opposition to Brexit deal on fisheries
  6. Private accounts of Danske Bank employees investigated
  7. UK's May defends Brexit deal to MPs, after ministers resign
  8. Brexit MP calls for 'no confidence' vote on May

Stakeholder

An open China brings opportunities to Europe

Some 60 years ago, the first major World Fair after World War II was held in Brussels. Sixty years on, China International Import Expo (CIIE), the first world expo dedicated to expanding imports, will open in Shanghai, China.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit
  3. International Partnership for Human RightsRaising key human rights concerns during visit of Turkmenistan's foreign minister
  4. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSState of the Nordic Region presented in Brussels
  5. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  6. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  7. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General
  8. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs.
  9. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  10. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  11. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  12. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs

Latest News

  1. Brexit dominates EU affairs This WEEK
  2. How the EU commission got tunnel vision on self-driving cars
  3. No-confidence calls against May put Brexit deal in doubt
  4. Key points of the Brexit deal (if it ever comes into effect)
  5. Romania heaps scorn on 'revolting' EU criticism
  6. US steps in to clean up Cyprus
  7. 'Decisive progress' on Brexit as British cabinet backs deal
  8. Asylum for Macedonia's ex-PM puts Orban on spot

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us