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South Korean watchdog probes 12 foreign banks over possible forex swap violations

StandardChartered Bank Korea Ltd. and Citibank Korea Inc. are among foreign banks underinvestigation in South Korea for possible collusions on foreign exchange swapbids, The Korea Herald reported April7, citing sources.

The country's Fair Trade Commission raided the offices of 12foreign banks and asked them to submit documentation related to the bidding processfor foreign-currency swap transactions in order to determine if unfair businesspractices were involved.

South Korean authorities will impose fines and correctiveorders on banks found to have colluded in the process, said Jeon Choong-soo,head of the antitrust watchdog's international cartel unit. He noted that notall foreign banks operating in South Korea are under investigation.

Standard Chartered Korea and Citibank Korea confirmed thatthey were being investigated by the watchdog.

The Fair Trade Commission is said to have secured evidenceof possible collusion between the foreign banks currently being investigatedthrough a prior probe, during which the commission had asked them to provideonline chat data.

In March, the watchdog fined HSBCHoldings Plc and Deutsche Bank AG for rigging four bidding processesbetween 2011 and 2012.

Standard Chartered Bank Korea is a unit of , while CitibankKorea is a unit of CitigroupInc.