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EU gives big banks $2.3 billion slap over rate rigging

JPMorgan Chase & Co.'s Manhattan headquarters.

The European Commission has hit a half dozen big banks, including Deutsche Bank and JPMorgan Chase, with a $2.3 billion fine for colluding to rig two benchmark lending rates that set the price of money between banks  -- something on which they were supposed to competing. It's the largest antitrust fine that the European Commission has ever imposed in a case of this kind.

The European Commission ruled that this group of banks -- some of the biggest and best known in the world -- essentially colluded to form an illegal cartel to profit from derivatives linked to rigged interest rates. The Competition Commission in Brussels said the most shocking aspect was not just the illegal activity, but that banks that were supposed to be competing with each other were actively colluding to the disadvantage of companies that rely on these interest rates every day.

"The indirect impact is if you're dealing with a company that relied on those interest rates to do their business, then those companies are getting rates which are not as good as they could have been, then presumably those companies are going to put up prices of some of the products and services which you want to buy," says the BBC's Europe correspondent Chris Morris. "So these things do trickle down through the economy."

About the author

Chris Morris is a reporter with the BBC.

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