Citigroup Said to Face Fine in EU’s Yen Libor Probe by Year-End

Citigroup Inc. may be fined by the European Union as soon as next month following a probe into the rigging of yen Libor submissions, according to two people with knowledge of the case.

Citigroup will settle the European Commission antitrust probe and receive a 10 percent discount on its fine, said one of the people, who asked not be named because the talks are confidential Joaquin Almunia, the EU’s antitrust chief, has said he hopes to settle the yen Libor and a parallel Euribor probe by the end of the year.

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. Barclays Plc, Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc and Rabobank Groep are among firms that have been fined about $3.7 billion for rigging the London interbank offered rate, or Libor, the benchmark for more than $300 trillion of securities worldwide.

Danielle Romero-Apsilos, a spokeswoman for New York-based Citigroup, and Antoine Colombani, Almunia’s spokesman, declined to comment on the yen Libor probe. The people familiar with the probe didn’t elaborate on the size of the fine.

Japanese regulators in December 2011 ordered Citigroup, the third-largest U.S. bank by assets, and UBS AG to suspend some operations after the banks’ staff were found to have attempted to influence the Tokyo interbank offered rate, or Tibor. Tom Hayes, a former trader at both Citigroup and UBS, was charged in the U.K. with attempting to manipulate Libor. He has pleaded not guilty.

EU Probes

Separately, Credit Agricole SA said today that it rejected a settlement of the EU’s probe into the rigging of Euribor. HSBC Holdings Plc also dropped out of talks to settle the commission’s antitrust probe, Bloomberg News reported this week.

Barclays, Deutsche Bank, JPMorgan Chase & Co., RBS and Societe Generale SA entered into settlement talks with the commission alongside HSBC and Credit Agricole, a person familiar with the probe said. Regulators are preparing to issue fines to settling banks as soon as next month, the person said.

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