ICAP Loses Bid for Bias Probe Ahead of EU Libor Fine Appeal

ICAP Plc, the world’s largest broker of transactions between banks, lost its bid to get the European Union’s ombudsman to probe whether the bloc’s competition arm was biased in a rate-rigging probe.

The internal EU watchdog’s office decided not to open an investigation after ICAP filed a complaint last year about the European Commission’s handling of its yen Libor antitrust case.

“In this case we came to the conclusion that there are no grounds to open a probe,” said Gundi Gadesmann, a spokeswoman for the ombudsman. ICAP declined to comment.

ICAP’s October complaint followed the opening of an ombudsman probe into Credit Agricole SA’s claims that the EU was prejudiced in a similar investigation into Euribor manipulation. In both the yen Libor and Euribor cases, the EU pledged to pursue companies that refused to settle after it extracted 1.7 billion euros ($1.9 billion) in fines from companies, including UBS Group AG and Deutsche Bank AG, that admitted liability in 2013.

ICAP was fined 15 million euros by the commission on Feb. 4 for helping traders to manipulate benchmark interest rates tied to the Japanese yen. ICAP said at the time it would appeal the fine to the EU courts on the basis that the commission “has presented no evidence that ICAP facilitated a competition law violation.”

Gadesmann said the ombudsman will issue recommendations in its Credit Agricole case in a few weeks.

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