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Billion-euro fine for banks in Banana Split FX fixing

Foreign exchange traders from six banks shared sensitive information in colourfully named Bloomberg chat rooms for five years. On Thursday, EU fines hit Barclays, RBS, Citigroup, JP Morgan and MUFG. Having revealed it all, UBS escaped punishment.

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There are many spectacular aspects to the foreign exchange collusion between traders of the six banking giants. The size of the fines is one. The shifting names of the two chat rooms is another.

One used for over five years in 2007–2013 was known varyingly as Three Way Banana Split, Two and a Half Men, and Only Marge. The other, active 2009–2012, was called Essex Express, and Semi Grumpy Old Men.

Details were presented in a press release Thursday.

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Three Nordic currencies targeted

All in all, the banks are judged by the European Commission for having performed in cartels in the exchange market for eleven currencies: British pound, Japanese yen, Swiss franc, US, Canadian, New Zealand and Australian dollars, and Danish, Swedish and Norwegian crowns.

Tell-all pardon

Fines for the Banana Split cartel amount to €811 million, while the Essex Express one gave a €258 million backlash. UBS, who revealed the whole thing to authorities, was thanked by not being fined.

UBS, Barclays and RBS were involved in both chat rooms, while Citigroup and JP Morgan are reported only in relation the Banana Split one, and Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi (now MUFG) is listed only for the Essex express one.

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