On 20 May 2021, the European Commission (“EC”) announced its long awaited decision in the European Government Bonds (“EGBs”) trading cartel. The EC has found that Bank of America, Natixis, Nomura, RBS (now NatWest), UBS, UniCredit and WestLB (now Portigon) had breached EU antitrust rules when acquiring and trading European Government Bonds on the primary and secondary market. The infringement occurred between 2007 and 2011.
Fines of EUR 371 million have been imposed on Nomura, UBS and UniCredit. NatWest has not been fined in accordance with the EC’s leniency programme, as it revealed the cartel to the EC. Bank of America and Natixis have also not been fined because their infringement falls outside the limitation period for imposition of fines. Portigon, which is the legal and economic successor of WestLB, also received a zero fine as it did not generate any net turnover in the business year which served as a cap to the fine. The fact that some members were not fined, for instance as a result of a leniency application, does not mean that they cannot be held liable for damages.
Victims of the infringement can claim damages from members of the cartel while relying on the decision of the EC. Deminor is analysing potential recovery options for aggrieved investors following this decision. As confirmed in the press release of 20 May 2021, victims of an infringement have the right to bring an action for damages before national courts on the basis of the decision, which constitutes binding proof that the behaviour took place and was illegal.
Deminor recommends that investors collect trading data relating to their purchases and sales of EGBs and send them to Deminor for analysis.