Five banks unlawfully shared information on government bonds, U.K. regulator says

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The U.K.’s Competition and Markets Authority on Wednesday said it has provisionally found that Citi, Deutsche Bank, HSBC, Morgan Stanley and Royal Bank of Canada broke competition law by exchanging sensitive information on U.K. government bonds in one-to-one online chats.

The regulator said the conversations in Bloomberg terminal chats and the alleged unlawful behavior took place between 2009 and 2013.

It said a small number of traders who worked at the banks exchanged information, including pricing and aspects of their trading strategies, on the buying and selling of U.K. government gilts and gilt asset swaps.

“This could have denied taxpayers, pension savers and financial institutions the benefits of full competition for these products, including the minimization of borrowing costs,” Executive Director of Enforcement Michael Grenfell said.

The CMA said Deutsche Bank

had admitted its participation under the regulator’s leniency policy and will not be fined. It added that Citi

also admitted its involvement in anti-competitive activity and that it applied for leniency during the CMA’s investigation, so any fine it receives will be discounted.

“HSBC, Morgan Stanley and Royal Bank of Canada have not admitted any wrongdoing. At this stage, no assumption should be made that any of the banks have broken the law,” the CMA said.

In an emailed statement to Dow Jones Newswires, RBC


said that it has cooperated fully with the CMA during its investigation and that it takes any allegation of employee misconduct very seriously.



told Dow Jones Newswires that it refuted the CMA’s allegations. “We will continue to make our case to the CMA as appropriate whilst we await a final decision,” it said in a statement.

Morgan Stanley

didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Write to Elena Vardon at


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