Banks Lose Bid for Secrecy on EU Commission Fines

(CN) – JPMorgan Chase and the French bank Credit Agricole failed Thursday to prevent the European Commission from publishing a decision regarding a cartel that rigged the benchmark interest rate known as Euribor.

Short for Euro Interest Rate Derivatives, the Euribor cartel case led the commission back in December 2016 to impose about $520 million in fines against JPMorgan Chase, Credit Agricole and HSBC.

As with the Libor scandal, the commission found here that the banks colluded to fix the price of derivatives and exchanged sensitive information in breach of EU rules on anti-competitive practices.

In addition to fighting the commission’s decision before the European General Court, JPMorgan Chase and Credit Agricole have claimed that that the commission’s 2016 decision contains confidential information and must be kept secret.

After the commission rejected the banks’ arguments in April, they applied to the General Court to have those decisions annulled.

The president of the General Court rejected both applications on Thursday, finding that the banks offered no evidence to suggest that the decision against them contains confidential information.

While a copy of the ruling is not available in English, a press release emphasizes that the public interest is an important factor when the commission imposes a fine for a breach of competition law.

“The president of the General Court points out that the applicants’ arguments that the principle of presumption of innocence precludes any publication of the decision finding an infringement or requires the whole of the description of the infringing conduct to be concealed, cannot, prima facie, succeed,” the press release states. “He notes that the acts of the EU institutions enjoy a presumption of legality and produce legal effects so long as they have not been withdrawn, annulled or declared invalid.

“Therefore, the president of the General Court finds that there are no grounds, prima facie, for the applications brought by the banks relating to confidential treatment and thus rejects the applications for interim measures.”

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