May 16 (UPI) -- The European Commission fined five banks more than $1 billion Thursday, including Citigroup and JPMorgan, for participating in collusion activities involving 11 currencies and two cartels in the Spot Foreign Exchange market.
The commission penalized Citigroup, JPMorgan, Barclays and the Royal Bank of Scotland for taking part in the Forex-Three Way Banana Split cartel. Barclays, RBS and MUFG Bank, formerly the Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi, were fined for its part in the Forex-Essex Express cartel, the commission said.
The fines announced Thursday totaled $1.2 billion. The commission is the executive arm of the European Union.
The EC said an investigation found some traders in charge of Forex spot trading of the questioned currencies on behalf of the relevant banks exchanged sensitive information and trading plans. The body said the information exchange led to traders occasionally coordinating their strategies through online professional chat rooms.
"We have fined Barclays, The Royal Bank of Scotland, Citigroup, JPMorgan and MUFGBank and these cartel decisions [to] send a clear message that the commission will not tolerate collusive behavior in any sector of the financial markets," Margrethe Vestager, in charge of the EC's competition policy, said in a statement.
"The behavior of these banks undermined the integrity of the sector at the expense of the European economy and consumers."
Forex spot order transactions are meant to be executed on the same day at the prevailing exchange rate.
UBS Group, the first to inform European regulators about the collusion efforts, was not fined. The EC charged Credit Suisse Group last year.