The Swiss Competition Commission (COMCO) announced Monday the opening of an investigation on the price fixing in the precious metals market. Seven banks with international reputations are being targeted by the authorities: UBS, HSBC, Deutsche Bank, Barclays, Morgan Stanley, Mitsui and Julius Baer.
According to a statement, COMCO possesses documentation pointing to these banks “having perhaps concluded illegal agreements in regard to the competition, notably regarding the bid-ask spreads”.
It is alleged that these banks would have colluded to falsify the data sent to regulators, said data being used to establish the official market prices... the same kind of manipulation that occurred in the LIBOR scandal.
COMCO expects to conclude its investigation in 2016 or 2017.
The banks will most likely have to incur financial penalties if found guilty. Two of them, Julius Baer and Deutsche Bank, have affirmed their willingness to cooperate with the authorities.
This inquiry is the latest, to date, of a long series of procedures regarding presumed manipulation on the foreign exchange, derivatives and commodities markets.
The American Department of Justice had, notably, launched an inquiry against several banks for alleged manipulation of precious metals prices.