EU accuses Deutsche Bank and Rabobank of bond market cartel

If these allegations are confirmed, Deutsche bank and Rabobank could be fined up to 10% of their annual turnover.

The European Commission accuses Deutsche Bank and the Dutch bank Rabobank of having agreed between 2005 and 2016 to distort competition on the secondary market for sovereign bonds denominated in euros, it announced in a press release on Tuesday. Brussels sent the two establishments a “communication des griefs», the equivalent of an indictment in Brussels jargon, suspecting them of anti-competitive practices. According to the EU executive, Deutsche Bank and Rabobank could have “exchange sensitive business information and coordinate their pricing and trading strategies when transacting these bonds» issued in euros by States or public entities.

«These contacts would have mainly taken place by means of e-mails and online communications on discussion forums.“, specifies the Commission in its press release, without providing other details. “The Commission initially agreed to study the possibility of reaching a settlement“with the two banks concerned, “but then halted the discussions due to their stalemate and decided to quickly return to the normal cartel procedure“. Brussels, which is not bound by any legal deadline in this investigation, could impose a fine of up to 10% of the annual turnover of the companies concerned if its allegations were confirmed.

Several similar trials in progress

In April 2021, the Commission imposed a total of 28 million euros in fines on Crédit Suisse, Crédit Agricole and Bank of America Merrill Lynch for colluding over several years to distort competition in the bond market. denominated in dollars between 2010 and 2015. Deutsche Bank, also concerned by this agreement but which had revealed the affair to the European authorities, had not been sanctioned, following this investigation which began in August 2015.

In May 2021, in a separate case, Brussels imposed a total of 371 million euros in fines on three investment banks (Japanese Nomura, Swiss UBS and Italian UniCredit), after noting an agreement between seven establishments on the European government bond market between 2007 and 2011. Bank of America and the French Natixis had escaped the sanction thanks to the limitation period, as well as Portigon (ex-WestLB), for lack of turnover , and the British Natwest (ex-RBS) exempted for having revealed the agreement to the Commission.

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