The European Commission has found that Bank of America, Natixis, Nomura, RBS (now NatWest), UBS, UniCredit and WestLB (now Portigon) have breached EU antitrust rules through the participation of a group of traders in a cartel in the primary and secondary market for European Government Bonds (‘EGB').
Commission found that the seven investment banks participated in a cartel through a group of traders working on their EGB desks and operating in a closed circle of trust between 2007 and 2011. These traders were in regular contact with each other mainly in multilateral chatrooms on Bloomberg terminals. In these chatrooms, the relevant traders exchanged commercially sensitive information. They informed and updated each other on their prices and volumes offered in the run up to the auctions and the prices shown to their customers or to the market in general. Furthermore, they discussed and provided each other with recurring updates on their bidding strategy in the run up to the auctions of the Eurozone Member States when issuing Euro denominated bonds on the primary market, and on trading parameters on the secondary market.
As a result, Commission fined Nomura, UBS and UniCredit totaling € 371 million. NatWest was not fined as it revealed the cartel to the Commission. Bank of America and Natixis are not fined either due to their infringement falls outside the limitation period for imposition of fines. Portigon, the legal and economic successor of WestLB, received no fine as it did not generate any net turnover in the last business year which served as a cap to the fine.
(European Commission - 20.05.2021)
NAZALI TAX & LEGAL