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Deutsche Bank, 3 others face EU probe into bond trading cartel

The European Commission charged Deutsche Bank AG, Credit Suisse Group AG, Crédit Agricole SA and another global bank of conspiring to distort competition in the sovereign bond market.

In a Dec. 20 statement, the EU antitrust enforcer said its investigation focuses on certain traders at the four banks suspected to have "exchanged commercially sensitive information and coordinated on prices" concerning U.S.-dollar denominated supra-sovereign, sovereign and agency, or SSA, bonds between 2009 and 2015, largely through online chatrooms.

Deutsche Bank said the same day that it has been granted immunity by the commission after it "proactively cooperated" with the investigation, adding that it does not expect a financial penalty in relation to the case. Crédit Agricole confirmed it received the commission's statement of objections and said it would issue a response.

Credit Suisse also said it was cooperating with the commission and that the matter relates to trading by a single employee who left the lender in 2016, Reuters reported.

Two sources told Bloomberg News that Bank of America Corp. is the fourth bank targeted by the probe.

The commission can impose fines of up to 10% of a company's annual turnover for breaching EU antitrust rules, the Financial Times noted.