(Adds details on Cade’s probes into currency rigging by more banks)
SAO PAULO, Dec 8 (Reuters) - Brazilian antitrust watchdog Cade said it has fined five international banks a combined 183.5 million reais ($54 million) as part of a settlement of charges they rigged the country’s currency market.
In a statement late on Wednesday, Cade said it signed an accord with Barclays Plc, Citigroup Inc, Deutsche Bank AG, HSBC Holdings Plc and JPMorgan Chase & Co. The watchdog said it will continue a probe of potential currency market violations involving other banks.
In July 2015, Cade accused a total of 15 banks of colluding to influence benchmark currency rates in Brazil by aligning positions and pushing transactions in a way that deterred competitors from the market between 2007 and 2013.
Deutsche Bank and Barclays declined to comment on the settlement. Media representatives for JPMorgan, Citigroup and HSBC did not immediately comment.
According to Cade’s statement, the five banks agreed to admit to anti-competitive practices and cooperate with the watchdog in revealing how they manipulated exchange rates published by financial information companies and monetary authorities.
Cade’s probe alleged that traders from the 15 banks probably front-ran client orders and pushed through trades that affected the way benchmarks like Brazil’s PTax and WM/Reuters rates were set. They might have also colluded to fix spreads on client trades, unveil spot and future trades that should have been kept confidential and even deal flow volume data, it said.
The watchdog plans to open a separate probe into possible collusion and currency rate-manipulation across several exchanges by some banks and other firms.
The investigations are offshoots of a five-year probe by the U.S. Department of Justice, which was paid $5.8 billion by some of the world’s largest banks to settle charges of currency rigging. Five of those banks, which are being probed by Cade, pleaded guilty as a result of the U.S. investigation. (Reporting by Reese Ewing; Editing by Guillermo Parra-Bernal, Lisa Von Ahn and Paul Simao)