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Five Global Banks Fined $3.4 Billion

Canary Wharf financial district, east London, Nov. 12, 2014.

U.S., British and Swiss regulators have fined five global banks nearly $3.4 billion for allegedly trying to manipulate foreign-exchange markets in recent years.

The regulators imposed the fines Wednesday against U.S.-based Citibank and JPMorgan Chase, the Royal Bank of Scotland, Britain's HSBC Bank and the Swiss banking giant UBS.

The chief executive of Britain's Financial Conduct Authority, Martin Wheatley, said traders at the banks were more interested in their own profits rather than their customers' interests in fair trading.

"The traders put their own interests ahead of their customers [interests], they manipulated the market or attempted to manipulate the market, and abused the trust, I think, of the public and certainly us as regulators," he said.

Regulators said that between 2008 and late 2013 the five banks failed to adequately train and supervise their foreign-currency traders, allowing them to share information and manipulate exchange rates.

About $5.3 trillion changes hands every day on the foreign-exchange market, with 40 percent of that occurring in London. Companies around the world use currency rates to value their assets and manage their financial risks.

Bank of England dealer fired

Also on Wednesday, the Bank of England announced that it fired its chief foreign exchange dealer after it found information about serious misconduct, but said the dismissal was unrelated to an ongoing foreign exchange scandal.

“This information related to the Bank's internal policies, not to FX,” a BoE spokeswoman told Reuters on Wednesday.

The BoE suspended its chief dealer in March as it looked into what Bank officials might have known about alleged manipulation of key currency rates by foreign exchange traders. He was fired on Tuesday.

The BoE said earlier on Wednesday that a review commissioned by the BoE's oversight committee found no evidence that any Bank official had been involved in unlawful or improper behavior in relation to the foreign exchange trading scandal.

Some portions of this report are from Reuters.

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