Foreign Exchange Cartel class action

Maurice Blackburn has launched a class action against UBS, Royal Bank of Scotland, JPMorgan, Citibank and Barclays in relation to alleged illegal cartel conduct in the foreign exchange market in the period 1 January 2008 to 15 October 2013.

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Since June 2013, there has been a growing body of evidence that foreign exchange traders at a number of large banks systematically manipulated foreign exchange rates for certain currencies throughout the period 1 January 2008 to 15 October 2013.

Background

It is alleged that in relation to the affected currencies, this resulted in the manipulation of:

  1. Foreign exchange benchmark rates;
  2. The pricing of "spreads", which is the difference between the price at which given currencies can be bought and the price at which they can be sold on the foreign exchange market; and 
  3. The triggering of client stop loss orders and limit orders and other manipulative conduct.

The alleged cartel conduct has been the subject of extensive regulatory and private enforcement action, including class actions in the United States of America and Canada. Settlements in the United States and Canadian class actions have so far resulted in the payment of over USD $2.3 billion and CAD $107 million, respectively. 

Has this affected me?

The alleged cartel conduct caused loss to foreign exchange customers in Australia throughout the period 1 January 2008 and 15 October 2013 by artificially increasing the cost of buying certain currencies and artificially decreasing the price received when selling certain currencies. The affected currencies are one or more of the following currencies: 

  • Australian dollar (AUD)
  • Brazilian real (BRL)
  • British pound (GBP)
  • Canadian dollar (CAD)
  • Chinese yuan (CNY)
  • Czech koruna (CZK)
  • Euro (EUR)
  • Hong Kong dollar (HKD)
  • Hungarian forint (HUF)
  • Indian rupee (INR)
  • Indonesian rupiah (IDR)
  • Israeli shekel (ILS)
  • Japanese yen (JPY)
  • Malaysian ringgits (MYR)
  • Mexican peso (MXN)
  • New Zealand dollar (NZD) 
  • Norwegian krone (NOK)
  • Polish zloty (PLN)
  • Romanian leu (RON)
  • Russian ruble (RUB)
  • Singapore dollar (SGD)
  • South African rand (ZAR)
  • South Korean won (KRW)
  • Swedish krona (SEK)
  • Swiss Franc (CHF)
  • Taiwan dollar (TWD)
  • Thai baht (THB)
  • Turkish lira (TRY)
  • U.S. dollar (USD)

You are likely to have been affected by this conduct if, throughout the period 1 January 2008 to 15 October 2013, you were party to foreign exchange transactions that involved one or more of these currencies.

Who is eligible to register?

You are eligible to register if, during the period 1 January 2008 to 15 October 2013, you were party to foreign exchange transactions*:

  1. Which were arranged in Australia, either because you were located in Australia (either directly or indirectly through an agent) or because the bank or financial institution that you arranged them through was located in Australia; and 
  2. The total value of your transactions in the affected currencies during this period exceeded AUD $500,000.

Foreign exchange transactions means FX spot transactions and outright forwards. Please note that this class action does not include any potential losses related to FX swaps, FX options, FX futures contracts, options on FX futures contracts, and any other instruments traded in the FX market. 

The affected currencies are those listed above

How do I register?

Register here.

On the registration portal, you can register your interest and details. As part of the registration process, we will also ask you to provide us with information about the approximate value of your foreign exchange transactions, the currency pairs exchanged in the transactions, and which bank (or banks) were counterparties to the foreign exchange transactions.

Contact us

If you would like further information regarding the Foreign Exchange Cartel Class Action, please contact us at ForexClassAction@mauriceblackburn.com.au or on 1800 270 800. 

FAQs - your questions answered

On 27 May 2019 Maurice Blackburn issued the Australian Foreign Exchange Cartel Class Action in the Federal Court of Australia.

We recently won an application requiring the respondents to provide us with certain material that they previously handed over under settlement agreements the US and Canadian actions. This is a victory for group members as it will assist us in continuing to gather evidence to support our claim.

Yes - you do not need to have engaged in FX transactions directly with the respondents in order to register in the FX class action.

The alleged cartel conduct caused loss by artificially increasing the cost of buying certain currencies and artificially decreasing the price received when selling certain currencies. This affected currency prices in the market regardless of whether you bought from one of the respondents or any other financial provider/ bank.

The claim only relates to FX spot trades and FX forward trades. The following transactions are not recoverable in the Australian class action: FX swaps, FX options, FX futures contracts, options on FX futures contracts, and other instruments traded in the FX Market.

Registration will not expose you to any out of pocket costs. Unless and until there is a successful outcome, all costs will be borne by Maurice Blackburn. There is no litigation funder involved in the FX class action.

In the event of a successful outcome, any costs payable to Maurice Blackburn will be deducted from, and will not exceed, any compensation that you are entitled to receive.

At this stage, we do not require claimants to provide us with any foreign exchange transaction data. We will likely make requests for data as the matter progresses, but we will discuss this with claimants as the need arises.

For the moment, we simply ask that claimants retain and not destroy (and ask any third parties/ custodians who may hold such records to retain and not destroy) any FX transaction data and records that they have for the period 1 January 2008 to 15 October 2013.

At this stage, it is too early to assess how much individual claimants will receive if the case is successful. The amount is likely to depend upon the amount of foreign exchange transacted by a claimant, the currency pairs traded in the relevant transactions, and economic evidence in relation to how the alleged cartel conduct affected those currencies during the period 1 January 2008 to 15 October 2013.

Yes - foreign entities which are not domiciled in the US and Canada, that arranged foreign exchange transactions in Australia (i.e. through an Australian sales desk or broker or where the trade was otherwise effected in Australia) are eligible to register.

We note that due to the claims made and settlements reached in the US and Canada, entities which are domiciled in the US and Canada are precluded from registering in the Australian FX class action.

Based on our investigations, we believe that a successful outcome in this class action is reasonably likely.

Where seven or more people have claims that arise out of similar circumstances, a class action can be brought by one claimant on their own behalf and as a representative of others.

The class action process saves time and expense by avoiding the need for the courts to determine common issues of fact or law more than once. Class actions are efficient, enabling disputes and claims involving large numbers of people to be resolved via a single case.