HSBC, Goldman, Barclays, BNP in Talks to Resolve Forex Suit

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Investors claiming banks manipulated foreign exchange rates are “hopeful” of reaching a settlement within 30 days in their cases against HSBC Holdings Plc, Barclays Plc, Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and BNP Paribas SA, according to their lawyer.

Michael Hausfeld, co-lead counsel for the investors suing the banks, said there have been “serious discussions” with the four banks and settlements may be announced soon.

Authorities in the U.S., Europe and Asia have scrutinized bank traders around the globe for evidence they colluded to rig financial benchmarks that affect everything from mortgages to retirement products to cross-border money flows. The investigations have yielded billions of dollars in fines and, in some cases, criminal convictions.

In 2013 regulators began examining whether traders were colluding with counterparts at other firms to rig currency benchmarks. Banks later introduced measures, such as segregating client requests, to clean up the largely unregulated $5.3 trillion-a-day market.

The investors sued in 2013, claiming the banks were among a dozen that violated U.S. antitrust law by conspiring to manipulate the benchmark WM/Reuters currency rates. The data are collected and distributed by World Markets Co., a unit of Boston-based State Street Corp., and Thomson Reuters Corp. The investors claim bank employees used online chat rooms to rig the market.

Rate Setting

WM/Reuters has modified the way the rate is set to make it harder to game. Bloomberg LP, the parent company of Bloomberg News, competes with Thomson Reuters in providing news and information as well as currency-trading systems.

Gillian James, an HSBC spokeswoman, and Barclays spokesman Will Bowen declined to comment on the talks. Goldman Sachs and BNP also declined to comment.

The Wall Street Journal reported earlier Wednesday that the four banks have agreed to settle the case, citing people familiar with the matter who weren’t named.

The case is In Re Foreign Exchange Benchmark Rates Antitrust Litigation, 13-cv-07789, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).

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