BNP Paribas admits FX price rigging, accepts $90 million fine

Guilty plea makes BNP Paribas the sixth major bank to admit price-fixing charges in FX markets.

The North American arm of French bank BNP Paribas has pleaded guilty to price-fixing charges in foreign exchange and will pay a criminal fine of $90 million, the US Justice Department confirmed.

The investment bank was found to have manipulated prices on an electronic FX trading platform with non-bona fide trades, and bids and offers with agreements on prices to quote specific clients.

“The antitrust division is committed to uncovering and prosecuting wrongdoing in all corners of the foreign currency exchange market, including this conspiracy affecting multiple emerging market currencies,” said assistant attorney general Makan Delrahim of the Justice Department’s antitrust division. 

“The division’s investigation aims to root out and eradicate the manipulation that has plagued this industry,” Delrahim added.

The guilty plea makes BNP Paribas the sixth major bank to admit fraud crimes in FX trading. In 2015 Citi, JP Morgan, Barclays and RBS were fined a combined $2.5 billion in 2015 for rigging prices in FX markets.

In January last year, a former Barclays and BNP Paribas trader admitted conspiring to manipulate the FX market and was permanently banned from working in the industry.

Jason Katz was found to have supressed competition by fixing prices in Central and Eastern European, Middle Eastern and African currencies.

“This guilty plea holds BNP Paribas accountable for its corrupt price-fixing behaviour which violated the integrity of the financial services industry and undermined competition,” FDIC inspector general Jay Lerner commented.