Big banks prepare for interest rate manipulation showdown as former finance director says they “need to be held accountable”
Former finance director Michael O’Higgins (pictured) is leading a multibillion dollar lawsuit against some of Britain’s largest banks
A former senior Treasury official who is leading a multi-billion dollar lawsuit against some of the UK’s largest banks has made a passionate plea for his case to continue.
Speaking before the Competition Appeal Tribunal, Michael O’Higgins said yesterday that bankers who are accused of manipulating currency markets through online chat rooms “must be held accountable”.
After a hearing in London that started yesterday and is slated to end later this week, a judge will decide whether to allow O’Higgins’s legal claim against banks such as Barclays, Natwest, JP Morgan and Citigroup.
Bank traders exchanged sensitive information and trading plans in online chat rooms between 2007 and 2013.
This enabled them to make informed decisions about when to buy or sell a currency they held – but bank customers, including pension funds, asset managers, hedge funds, and corporations, could lose hundreds of millions of pounds.
O’Higgins intends to bring a class action lawsuit on behalf of all affected customers.
Two US law firms, Scott + Scott and Hausfeld, are battling for the right to seek damages of at least £ 1 billion. The hearing will decide which of the two – if one – is allowed to present his case.
“My time in the Treasury pretty much coincided with the global financial crisis and its aftermath.
When I saw the staff at Her Majesty’s Treasury Department work tirelessly to save the banking system, I or she did not know that the people in some of the big banks were actively involved in anti-competitive cartel behavior in the currency markets. Higgins said.
The banks have already been fined more than £ 900 million by the European Commission for participating in cartels.