In re Foreign Exchange Benchmark Rates Antitrust Litigation
Status: Ongoing Case
Partial settlements totaling more than $2 billion in this financial benchmarking antitrust case
On March 21, 2014, the plaintiffs filed a consolidated amended complaint against major dealer bankers, alleging anticompetitive conduct in the foreign currency exchange (FX) market. On January 28, 2015, the court denied the defendants' motions to dismiss the class action.
The severity of these allegations is underlined by the frequent use of these rates as industry-wide benchmarks in a variety of financial instruments and transactions involving the exchange of one currency for another. On a daily basis, the FX market turns over approximately $5 trillion in various currencies.
The claims center on collusion among several major FX dealers to artificially set certain key FX rates in order to enhance their profits and reduce the value of their customers' FX transactions. The FX dealers are alleged to have coordinated their trading strategies through the use of online, electronic chat-rooms where they discussed client orders and aligned their trading strategies in order to effectuate the manipulation of the FX benchmarks.
The alleged conduct has also attracted the attention of antitrust and other government enforcement agencies around the world. In the United States, the Department of Justice and the FBI have opened a criminal investigation into alleged anticompetitive conduct in the FX market. Parallel investigations by the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission, the Federal Reserve and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) have also commenced. Overseas, the UK's Financial Conduct Authority, the European Commission, and other governmental and regulatory authorities are also investigating alleged anticompetitive conduct in the FX market.
To date, the combined settlement amounts to more than $2 billion. All of those settlements have included cooperation agreements. The court described this case as "extremely complex," involving complicated issues of antitrust law and complex subject matter of FX trading. The case continues against the remaining defendants. In December 2016, the court approved the form and manner of notice of settlements and preliminarily approved the plan of distribution.
The case is In re Foreign Exchange Benchmark Rates Antitrust Litigation, No. 13-cv-07789 (S.D.N.Y.). The plaintiffs are Aureus Currency Fund LP; City of Philadelphia, Board of Pensions and Retirement; Employees' Retirement System of the Government of the Virgin Islands; Employees' Retirement System of Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority; Fresno County Employees' Retirement Association; Haverhill Retirement System; Oklahoma Firefighters Pension and Retirement System; State-Boston Retirement System; Syena Global Emerging Markets Funds LP; Tiberius OC Fund, Ltd.; Value Recovery Fund LLC; and United Food and Commercial Workers Union and Participating Food Industry Employers Tri-State Pension Fund. Labaton Sucharow represents State-Boston Retirement Systems. The defendants are major dealer banks, including Barclays, Deutsche Bank, Citigroup, HSBC, JPMorgan, RBS, and UBS.