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Six banks may face record fines in Britain as they begin talks about a settlement following an investigation into allegations of rigging currency markets, the Financial Times reported on Friday.
Barclays, Citigroup, HSBC, JPMorgan Chase, the Royal Bank of Scotland and UBS have begun meetings with the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) to agree a settlement, and fines may amount to over one billion pounds ($1.6 billion, 1.3 billion euros), the FT reported, citing sources close to the situation.
The FCA declined to comment on the case.
Several financial institutions have suspended traders due to the alleged manipulation, which comes after the Libor scandal over the rigging of the London Interbank Offered Rate, a flagship instrument affecting borrowing costs around the world.
In the new rigging case, investigators believe traders used Internet chat rooms and instant messaging to work together illegally to influence the WM/Reuters fix, the dominant global benchmark in the currency market.
A criminal investigation separate to the FCA's probe is underway.
Britain is keen to safeguard the reputation of the City of London, the world's foremost hub for the $5.3 trillion-a-day currency market.
On Thursday, the government announced it planned to extend laws criminalising the fixing of Libor to cover seven major benchmarks including in oil, gold and currency markets.
Investigations of currency market rigging are not limited to Britain, but extend to Germany, Switzerland and the United States.