Barclays, Citi, JPMorgan Face Korea Forex Probe in South Korea

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South Korea’s Fair Trade Commission is probing how alleged foreign-exchange market rigging by six global banks including Barclays Plc and Bank of America Corp. may have hurt Korean firms.

The commission is reviewing whether the activities of six global banks that were fined by the U.S. and the U.K. had affected South Korean companies, Chairman Jeong Jae Chan told lawmakers in parliament on Wednesday, without naming the banks.

Barclays, Bank of America, Citigroup Inc., JPMorgan Chase & Co., Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc and UBS Group AG agreed to pay a combined $5.8 billion in a settlement announced by the U.S. Justice Department in May, with five pleading guilty to charges tied to a currency-rigging probe. Spokesmen for the firms declined to comment.

The probe into the manipulation of foreign-exchange rates is spreading beyond the U.S. and Europe. South Africa’s anti-trust regulator said in May it’s investigating firms including JPMorgan and Citigroup over allegations traders colluded to rig the rand.

In December, the Hong Kong Monetary Authority said after a yearlong investigation it found no evidence of collusion among banks nor any rigging of benchmark exchange-rate fixings, though it had uncovered failed attempts at manipulation.

The Monetary Authority of Singapore has said that it has been in contact with foreign regulators over currency manipulation and that it’s looking into any allegations of “inappropriate behavior.”

South Korea’s FTC is responsible for regulating fair competition between companies, including the protection of consumers from monopolies and abuse of market power. The FTC is currently investigating the licensing business of Qualcomm Inc., a company it previously fined 260 billion won ($233 million) for deterring competition.

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