Citigroup to Pay $425 Million to End CFTC Benchmark Probes

  • Bank accused of attempting to manipulate ISDAfix swap rates
  • Accord also resolves allegations over rigging of Libor

Citigroup Inc. will pay $425 million to resolve U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission claims that the bank attempted to manipulate global benchmarks for interest-rate products multiple times from 2007 to 2012.

The CFTC announced two settlements Wednesday with New York-based Citigroup over allegations involving the ISDAfix, as well as London and Tokyo benchmarks.

Citigroup will pay $250 million over allegations tied to ISDAfix, a global interest-rate benchmark used by banks, and $175 million for alleged abuses linked to the London Interbank offered rate, the regulator said in two separate statements.

The allegations demonstrate that “we will vigorously continue to investigate any efforts to manipulate financial benchmarks, and we will take action where possible to protect the integrity of these benchmarks,” said Aitan Goelman, the CFTC’s director of enforcement.

‘Significant Step’

The CFTC also said Citigroup tried to influence U.S. Treasury securities because prices of the government debt were used as a factor to set the ISDAfix rates each day. The CFTC said it had electronic communications from Citibank traders where they said it was “suprising[ly] easy to push” the rate near the 11 a.m. fixing time.

“These settlements represent a significant step for Citi in resolving its legacy benchmark rate investigations,” said Citigroup spokeswoman Danielle Romero-Apsilos in an e-mailed statement. “We continue to fully cooperate with pending investigations conducted by other agencies related to benchmark rate submissions.”

In both the ISDAfix and Libor settlements, Citigroup didn’t admit or deny wrongdoing.

While the Justice Department has brought criminal cases against five banks for Libor manipulation, prosecutors told Citigroup last year that "based on the facts and circumstances" it wouldn’t be charged, the bank said in a May 2015 regulatory filing.

On ISDAfix, Barclays Plc was the first bank to settle CFTC manipulation allegations, agreeing to pay $115 million last year.

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