Swiss regulators to probe multiple firms for rigging markets

AFP, ZURICH, Switzerland

Sun, Oct 06, 2013 - Page 13

Switzerland’s regulators on Friday announced they had launched a probe of Swiss companies over alleged manipulation of foreign exchange markets.

The Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority (FINMA) said it was investigating “several Swiss financial institutions,” but did not identify them.

“FINMA is coordinating closely with authorities in other countries as multiple banks around the world are potentially implicated,” it said in a statement, adding that it would be giving any details.

Switzerland’s Competition Commission also announced that it was investigating potential market rigging.

In a statement, it said that it had opened its probe on Monday after becoming aware of “potential complicity between various banking institutions over the exchange rate of several currencies.”

“Further measures are being considered,” it added, saying it would not be revealing the names of the companies involved for the time being.

Speculation is growing in Switzerland that among the probes’ targets could be UBS AG, the top player in the Swiss banking market and one of the leaders in the global foreign exchange business.

Swiss financial blog Inside Paradeplatz claimed that UBS recently fired two directors of foreign exchange operations in Zurich and New York.

According to financial magazine Euromoney, UBS and Credit Suisse are in the global top 10 on the foreign exchange market.In a recent ranking, Euromoney placed UBS fourth with a market share of 10.1 percent.

The banking sector has already been shaken by a rigging scandal related to the LIBOR, a rate for lending between banks that also determines several financial and interest rate contracts.

UBS was fined 1.4 billion Swiss francs (US$1.5 billion) by US, British and Swiss authorities for its role in that market manipulation.