November 13, 2014 / 11:44 AM / 4 years ago

Switzerland opens criminal investigation into several individuals in forex case

Lighters with images of the U.S. currency are displayed at a souvenir shop in Manhattan in New York City November 6, 2014. REUTERS/Mike Segar

ZURICH (Reuters) - Switzerland’s public prosecutor has opened criminal investigations into several individuals over alleged manipulation in the foreign exchange market, becoming the third country to do so after the United States and Britain.

A spokeswoman for the prosecutor did not disclose how many people were under investigation nor when the proceedings began, but said by email on Thursday that the investigations did not involve any banks.

The investigations were based on suspicion of “unfaithful financial management”, punishable by up to five years in prison or a fine, and “violation of professional secrecy”, which carries a penalty of up to three years in jail or a fine.

The public prosecutor is exchanging information with Switzerland’s financial watchdog, FINMA in its investigations and is also in contact with Switzerland’s competition commission, WEKO, which is investigating possible collusion in the forex market by several banks, the spokeswoman said.

On Wednesday, FINMA said it had started enforcement proceedings against 11 former and current UBS employees as part of its forex investigation.

The public prosecutor’s spokeswoman declined to say whether any of the people being investigated on criminal charges were among those being targeted by FINMA’s proceedings.

($1 = 0.9648 Swiss franc)

Reporting by Joshua Franklin and Oliver Hirt; Editing by Louise Ireland

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