US jury finds Credit Suisse did not rig the forex market

NEW YORK, Oct 20 (Reuters) – A U.S. jury ruled on Thursday that Credit Suisse Group AG (CSGN.S) did not conspire with the world’s biggest banks to rig prices in the foreign exchange market between 2007 and 2013, giving the bank a win as it works to restructure itself and put a series of scandals behind it.

The case stems from the forex rigging scandal, which led to international regulatory investigations resulting in more than $10 billion in fines for several banks.

A Credit Suisse spokesperson said the bank was “extremely pleased that the jury agreed with us that the plaintiffs’ case had no merit”.

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Credit Suisse was the last remaining bank defendant in the class action lawsuit brought by currency investors in 2013, after 15 others reached settlements worth $2.31 billion. Investors alleged that Credit Suisse traders shared non-public pricing information with traders at other banks.

During the trial in Manhattan federal court that began Oct. 11, jurors heard testimony that in 2015 five banks pleaded guilty to forex-related antitrust conspiracies, and saw chat room transcripts with names such as “The Cartel” where investors said the traders colluded.

The jury began its deliberations on Wednesday and worked for about seven hours in total to reach its verdict. They found that investors had proven there was a conspiracy to rig prices in the forex market, but not that it involved Credit Suisse.

A lawyer for the investors argued during the trial that the transcripts of the conversations were damning evidence of a unique conspiracy between the banks to rig the foreign exchange market. Credit Suisse traders participated in more than 100 chat rooms and shared information about the spread between the buying and selling price of currencies every other day, he said.

Credit Suisse lawyers argued that such infrequent communication could not sway the market, that traders discussing different currency pairs could not be part of the same conspiracy, and that there was no evidence that Credit Suisse traders have ever acted on cats.

In July, Credit Suisse reached an agreement with certain investors, including BlackRock Inc and Allianz SE’s Pimco, who chose to “opt out” of the class action litigation. Investors usually do this when they hope to recover more by suing themselves. Terms of the settlement were not disclosed.

The verdict came as the Swiss bank struggled to finalize an overhaul that would likely see it trim a volatile investment bank in London and New York to focus on banking for the wealthy in Switzerland.

The case is In Re Foreign Exchange Benchmark Rates Antitrust Litigation, US District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 13-07789.

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Reporting by Jody Godoy in New York; Editing by Andrea Ricci

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