HSBC gets some satisfaction in EU court against Euribor cartel fine

By Foo Yun Chee

LUXEMBOURG (Reuters) - HSBC got partial satisfaction on Tuesday in its fight against a 33.6 million euro ($37 million) fine levied by EU antitrust regulators three years ago for rigging the Euribor financial benchmark together with six other banks.

The General Court, Europe's second highest court, agreed with the EU's competition watchdog that HSBC infringed the law but annulled the fine over insufficient reasoning.

HSBC, Credit Agricole and JPMorgan were fined 485 million euros by the European Commission in 2016. All three had denied wrongdoing and challenged the decision. HSBC's fine was the smallest as it took part in the cartel for just a month.

"We're pleased that the Court has annulled the fine. We have consistently disputed that our actions constituted anti-competitive behavior and are considering all aspects of the ruling and our legal options," HSBC said in a statement.

The European Commission, the bloc's executive body, has said the trio were part of a seven-bank cartel that colluded between September 2005 and May 2008 to manipulate the Euribor interest rate, which is set using quotes from a panel of banks and is widely used in international money markets.

The Commission said traders at the banks exchanged information on their trading positions and pricing strategies via chatrooms or messaging services.

The other three - Deutsche Bank , RBS and Societe Generale - admitted wrongdoing three years ago in return for lower fines. Barclays escaped a fine because it alerted the cartel to the Commission.

The case is T-105/17 HSBC Holdings v Commission.

(Reporting by Foo Yun Chee, Editing by Gabriela Baczynska and Susan Fenton)

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