The Strategist

EU fines UBS, UniCredit and Nomura €371m for cartel fraud

05/21/2021 - 04:20

The European Commission has fined financial institutions UBS, UniCredit and Nomura a total of €371m for collusion in the European primary and secondary government bond markets.

The EU authorities found that seven investment banks violated European law. In addition to those listed above, Bank of America, Natixis, RBS (now NatWest) and WestLB (now Portigon) were also involved in the collusion. NatWest was not fined because it had reported the collusion to the EC. 

Bank of America and Natixis avoided punishment due to the expiry of the statute of limitations for imposing fines. Portigon received a zero fine because it did not generate any revenue from which to levy a fine last year.

According to the European Commission, bank traders used chat rooms on Bloomberg terminals to exchange inside information about their government bond trading strategies, informing each other of the prices and volumes of government bonds being auctioned as well as the prices shown to their clients or the market as a whole. The cartel operated from 2007 to 2011, the European Commission claims.

As a result, Nomura was fined €129.5 million, UBS was fined €173.4 million and UniCredit, which participated in the collusion for only a couple of months, was fined €69.4 million. All the fined are set to appeal the European Commission's decision.