The European Commission has just fined with more than €1 billion to several European banks for joining a cartel in order to control the activity in the currency market. UBS denounced the collusive agreements with free competition and Brussels concludes its sanctioning proceedings with an exemplary fine.
Many companies and individuals have suffered from this anti-competitive agreement. Can they claim liability? Where? Can they claim in Spain or in the place where the banks are headquartered?
Our partner Juan Ignacio Navas, founder of Navas & Cusí Lawyers, a firm specialising in European law, has explained in an interview for the media, the conditions of a possible claim for the exchange market cartel.
What did you think of the European Commission’s fine?
Very well because anti-competitive practices affect the consumer and reduce competitiveness.
What can those affected do?
They can claim damages on the basis of the directive of 26 November 2014 of the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union.
What does this Directive say?
The Directive says that those who have suffered damage as a result of a cartel or collusive activity will be able to claim such damage from the companies that are part of the cartel.
None of the banks involved in this cartel is Spanish. Still, can a Spanish citizen or company sue?
Yes, because the key is whether they has been affected. And every citizen or company that traded foreign exchange between 18/12/2007 and 31/01/2013 has been a affected by the cartel.
Even non-European citizens or companies?
Also. Everyone can claim as long as they can prove that they have traded in foreign currencies between those dates. I’m sure that many big American and Latin American companies are going to complain.
How much money can they claim?
The analysis of the damage has to be expert. But the historical damage in other cartels in the European Union is around 20%, which I think is a very relevant percentage.
Where should we sue, in the country of origin of the banks that are members of the cartel or in the country of the affected party?
Damage can be claimed in any court in Europe. The logical thing for Spanish citizens and companies is that they do it in Spain for the sake of convenience. But we can also claim in Holland where there are special anti-competition courts.
What currencies are affected?
Practically all the relevant ones. Of course, all European currencies: euro, pound sterling, Swiss franc and the Danish, Swedish and Norwegian kroner. But also the American dollar, the Canadian dollar, the Australian dollar and the New Zealand dollar.
What are the chances of success?
There is a big possibility of success because the European Commission’s dossier is very forceful. And the banks involved even recognized their participation in the cartel in order to reduce the fine. So, the most important thing is to be able to prove that currency was traded in that period. If we can prove, the damage is clear and liability has already been recognized.
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