Swiss Minister Says Regulators Started Manipulation Probe

Switzerland’s Finance Minister Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf confirmed that regulators have started a probe over alleged currency manipulations.

“The extent of these and which of our country’s institutions are affected can’t be said conclusively at this stage,” Widmer-Schlumpf said at a briefing in the Swiss capital Bern today. “It’s important that we wait” for results.

While Widmer-Schlumpf told reporters that it was “a fact that currency manipulations have been committed,” the ministry later said she had meant the investigation was a fact. Swiss regulators said last week they’re probing several banks for allegedly colluding to manipulate the $5.3 trillion-a-day foreign exchange market.

Neither the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority, known as Finma, nor the competition watchdog have named banks.

The probes come after Bloomberg News reported in June that dealers at banks pooled information through instant messages and used client orders to move benchmark currency rates. Britain’s Financial Conduct Authority said the same month it was reviewing the allegations. The U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission has also been looking into potential violations, according to a person familiar with the matter who asked not to be identified.

Britain’s FCA last week reiterated that it has been speaking to the “relevant” parties. The regulator has requested information from four banks including Deutsche Bank AG (DBK) and Citigroup Inc. (C), a person with knowledge of the matter who asked not to be identified said in June.

About four banks account for more than half of all trading in the foreign-exchange market, according to Euromoney Institutional Investor Plc. Deutsche Bank is No. 1 with a 15 percent share, followed by Citigroup with almost 15 percent and Barclays Plc (BARC) and UBS AG (UBSN), which each have 10 percent.

To contact the reporters on this story: Giles Broom in Geneva at gbroom@bloomberg.net; Zoe Schneeweiss in Zurich at zschneeweiss@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Frank Connelly at fconnelly@bloomberg.net

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