EU antitrust regulators on Thursday fined Nomura, UBS and UniCredit a total of €371 million for taking part in a European governments bonds trading cartel.
The European Commission said Bank of America, RBS (now known as NatWest), Natixis and WestLB (now known as Portigon) also took part in the cartel and .
The Commission further explained that seven investment banks breached EU antitrust rules through the participation of a group of traders in a cartel and that the behaviour violated EU rules that prohibited anticompetitive business practices, according to a press release.
“NatWest was not fined as it revealed the cartel to the Commission. Bank of America and Natixis were also not fined either because their infringement falls outside the limitation period for imposition of fines,” said the Commission.
Portigon, the legal and economic successor of WestLB, received a zero fine as it did not generate any net turnover in the last business year which served as a cap to the fine.
“Our decision against Bank of America, Natixis, Nomura, RBS, UBS, UniCredit and WestLB sends a clear message that the Commission will not tolerate any kind of collusive behavior,” said Executive Vice-President of the Commission Margrethe Vestager
“It is unacceptable, that in the middle of the financial crisis, when many financial institutions had to be rescued by public funding these investment banks colluded in this market at the expense of EU Member States,” added Vestager.
The Commission stated that the conduct partially took place during the financial crisis and more specifically between 2007 and 2011, and affected the entire European Economic Area (‘EEA’).