May 25, 2016 / 1:07 PM / a year ago

Citigroup to pay $425 million over attempted interest rate manipulation

4 Min Read

People walk past a branch of Citibank in Beijing, China, April 18, 2016.Kim Kyung-Hoon

(This story corrects headline and first paragraph to reflect that foreign exchange was not part of Wednesday's settlements)

(Reuters) - Citigroup Inc (C.N) has agreed to pay $425 million to resolve civil charges that it tried to manipulate interest rate benchmarks.

In announcing the settlement on Wednesday, the Commodities Futures Trading Commission said Citigroup affiliates also made false reports in connection with ISDAFIX benchmark rates and dollar Libor rates during the financial crisis to protect its reputation.

The CFTC accused Citigroup of trying to manipulate the benchmarks by certain traders putting in false data to benefit their own trading positions. The various actions occurred between 2007 and 2012.

With the Citigroup settlement, the CFTC said it has imposed more than $5 billion in penalties in 17 actions against banks and brokers for manipulating benchmarks for interest rates and foreign exchange. The settlement is the latest in a series of ongoing international probes of global banks.

Citi’s settlement sum is sizeable compared to other recent CFTC enforcement actions, but the bank has faced at least one larger regulatory settlement. In 2014, Citi agreed to pay the U.S. Justice Department $7 billion to resolve claims it misled investors about the quality of mortgage-backed securities.

The benchmarks included the U.S. dollar ISDAFIX for fixed interest rate swaps, the Yen Libor and the Euroyen Tibor.

Banks use the London Interbank Offered Rate (Libor) and Tokyo Interbank Offered Rate (Tibor) to set the cost of borrowing from each other. Libor is often used to set rates on such things as credit cards and mortgages.

"These settlements represent a significant step for Citi in resolving its legacy benchmark rate investigations," Citi spokeswoman Danielle Romero-Apsilos said in a statement.

The bank said it has made "substantial" investments to guard against "inappropriate behavior," Romero-Apsilos said.

Citigroup said it has taken reserves to cover the costs of the settlement.

In May 2015, Barclays Plc (BARC.L) was fined $115 million by the CFTC to settle an investigation into the setting of the ISDAFIX benchmark.

Earlier this month, seven of the world's biggest banks agreed to pay $324 million to settle a private U.S. lawsuit accusing them of rigging an interest rate benchmark used in the$553 trillion derivatives market.

The deal resolves antitrust claims against Bank of America Corp (BAC.N), Barclays, Citigroup, Credit Suisse Group AG(CSGN.S), Deutsche Bank AG (DBKGn.DE), JPMorgan Chase & Co(JPM.N) and Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc <RBS.L<.

In the private cases, several pension funds and municipalities had accused 14 banks, including those that settled, of conspiring to rig the ISDAFIX benchmark for their own gain from at least 2009 to 2012.

Citigroup shares were up 1.8 percent to $46.70, following a broadly higher market.

Reporting by Sarah N. Lynch in Washington and Suzanne Barlyn in Washington Crossing, Pa. and David Henry in New York; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe

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