(US Federal Reserve, May 20, 2015) The Federal Reserve announced it will impose fines totaling more than $1.8 billion against six major banking organizations for their unsafe and unsound practices in the foreign exchange (FX) markets. The fines, among the largest ever assessed by the Federal Reserve, include: $342 million each for UBS AG, Barclays Bank PLC, Citigroup Inc., and JPMorgan Chase & Co.; $274 million for Royal Bank of Scotland PLC (RBS); and $205 million for Bank of America Corporation.
The Federal Reserve also issued cease and desist orders requiring the firms to improve their policies and procedures for oversight and controls over activities in the wholesale FX and similar types of markets.
The Federal Reserve is requiring the firms to correct deficiencies in their oversight and internal controls over traders who buy and sell U.S. dollars and foreign currencies for the organizations’ own accounts and for customers. As a result of these deficient policies and procedures, the organizations engaged in unsafe and unsound conduct by failing to detect and address improper actions by their traders. These actions included the disclosure in electronic chatrooms of confidential customer information to traders at other organizations. Five of the banks failed to detect and address illegal agreements among traders to manipulate benchmark currency prices. Bank of America failed to detect and address conduct by traders who discussed the possibility of entering into similar agreements to manipulate prices. In addition, the Federal Reserve found UBS, Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase, and Barclays engaged in unsafe and unsound conduct in FX sales, including conduct relating to how the organizations disclosed to customers the methods for determining price quotes.
The Federal Reserve is requiring the six organizations to improve their senior management oversight, internal controls, risk management, and internal audit policies and procedures for their FX activities and for similar kinds of trading activities and is requiring four of the organizations to improve controls over their sales practices. The Federal Reserve is also requiring all six organizations to cooperate in its investigation of the individuals involved in the conduct underlying these enforcement actions and is prohibiting the organizations from
re-employing or otherwise engaging individuals who were involved in unsafe and unsound conduct.
The Federal Reserve is taking action against UBS, Barclays, Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase, and RBS concurrently with the Department of Justice’s criminal charges against these five organizations related to misconduct in the FX markets. Bank of America was not part of the actions taken by the Department of Justice and has not been charged by the Department of Justice in this matter.
The Connecticut Department of Banking has joined the cease and desist provisions of the Federal Reserve’s action against UBS, which has a branch located in Stamford, Connecticut. The New York Department of Financial Services has taken a separate action against Barclays and its New York branch based on FX-related conduct.