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Credit Agricole CEO Refuses a Settlement on Euribor With EU

Credit Agricole SA Chief Executive Officer Jean-Paul Chifflet
Credit Agricole SA Chief Executive Officer Jean-Paul Chifflet said, “I’ve refused the idea of a settlement because it would have put into question our responsibility.” Photographer: Fabrice Dimier/Bloomberg

Credit Agricole SA, France’s third-largest bank by market value, rejected a settlement with the European Union’s antitrust watchdog over the alleged rigging of Euribor lending rates.

“Our ideas are very clear -- we have a very good case,” Chief Executive Officer Jean-Paul Chifflet told reporters on a conference call. “I’ve refused the idea of a settlement because it would have put into question our responsibility.”

Regulators around the world are probing whether more than a dozen firms, including Deutsche Bank AG, colluded to rig benchmark interest rates to mask their true cost of borrowing. Banks that refuse to settle with the European Commission in the Euribor probe give up the chance of a 10 percent discount in fines in return for admitting they colluded to manipulate the benchmark.

HSBC Holdings Plc, Europe’s largest bank by market value, dropped out of the Euribor negotiations with the commission because the discussions stumbled over the possible size of the fine and liability issues, a person familiar with the investigation said this week.

Asked whether Credit Agricole had received any notification from regulators investigating alleged manipulation of the London interbank offered rate, or Libor, Chifflet said that the bank is continuing to cooperate with authorities on the matter.

Credit Agricole booked 80 million euros ($108 million) in unspecified litigation provisions in the third quarter, the bank said in a statement today.

Earnings Rise

Credit Agricole rose as much as 3.5 percent in Paris trading after it reported third-quarter net income of 728 million euros, compared with a 2.85 billion-euro loss a year ago. Societe Generale, France’s second-largest bank by market value, climbed as much as 3.6 percent after saying net income rose almost six-fold to 534 million euros in the quarter.

Societe Generale booked 200 million euros in additional provisions for litigation in the period, raising to 700 million euros the total amount it has set aside.

Deputy CEO Severin Cabannes, in an interview with Bloomberg Television, said the bank has nothing new to say on the Euribor or Libor cases at this time.

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