HSBC, JPMorgan, C Agricole to fight EU charges at June hearing: sources

Fri Apr 24, 2015 2:00pm EDT
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By Foo Yun Chee

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - HSBC Holdings (HSBA.L: Quote), JPMorgan (JPM.N: Quote) and Credit Agricole (CAGR.PA: Quote) will seek to fight European Union charges of rigging financial benchmarks at a closed door hearing in June, two people familiar with the matter said on Friday.

The European Commission accused the three banks in May last year of manipulating the Euribor interbank offered rate after they refused to settle a case five months earlier, unlike six other banks.

In December 2013, a record 1.7-billion-euro fine was imposed on six banks including Deutsche Bank (DBKGn.DE: Quote), Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS.L: Quote) and Citigroup (C.N: Quote) for alleged benchmark rigging. The banks settled these charges and received a 10-percent cut in the fines.

"The hearing will be from 15 to 17 June," the people said.

Commission spokesman Ricardo Cardoso declined to comment. HSBC and JPMorgan declined to comment.

In these hearings, companies typically take the opportunity to press their case in front of an audience of experts from the EU executive and national regulators.

JPMorgan said last year the EU charges were without merit while HSBC said it would defend itself vigorously. Credit Agricole last month got a boost when the European Ombudsman backed its claim of Commission bias during the investigation.

The Commission usually takes several months to come to a decision after such a hearing.   Continued...

People walk inside JP Morgan headquarters in New York, October 25, 2013.  REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz