Precious metals trading is probed by EU after US investigation
European Union antitrust regulators are probing precious-metals trading following a U.S. investigation that embroiled some of the world's biggest banks.
The European Commission disclosed the probe after HSBC Holdings Plc said in a filing earlier this month that it had received a request for information from the EU in April. "The commission is currently investigating alleged anti-competitive behavior in precious metals spot trading" in Europe, Ricardo Cardoso, a spokesman for the regulator, said in an e-mail on Tuesday.
HSBC said in its half-year earnings report on Aug. 3 that the Brussels-based commission in April sought details about its precious-met- als operations and that it's "cooperating with the authorities." U.S. prosecutors have been examining whether at least 10 banks, including Barclays Plc, JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Deutsche Bank AG, manipulated prices of precious metals such as silver and gold. The scrutiny follows international probes into the rigging of financial benchmarks for rates and currencies, which have yielded bil- lions of dollars in fines.
The trio was among financial companies that agreed in an EU settlement to pay a total of 1.7 billion euros ($2 billion) in December 2013 for colluding over derivatives linked to the London and euro interbank offered rates. HSBC remains under investigation in the Euribor case after refusing to join the accord.
In the U.S., UBS Group AG said in May that it won immunity from criminal fraud charges in a Justice Department investigation into misconduct in the trading of precious metals.
Barclays said in a July filing it has been "providing information to the DOJ and other authorities in connection with investigations into precious metals and precious metals-based financial instruments."