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BNP Paribas USA to pay $90 million as part of guilty plea on manipulating FX market

BNP Paribas USA will pay $90 million in criminal fines after it pleaded guilty on Thursday to federal charges of price-fixing in the foreign-exchange market, according to court documents.

BNP Paribas manipulated prices in an electronic FX trading platform by creating false trades and taking other actions to suppress prices and eliminate competition, according to the filing from U.S. District Court in New York. The manipulation of prices between September 2011 and July 2013 involved Central and Eastern European, Middle Eastern and African currencies.

Last July, BNP Paribas agreed to pay $246 million to settle Federal Reserve claims that the bank failed to keep its currency traders from using electronic chatrooms to manipulate prices. The bank in May settled similar charges with the New York State Department of Financial Services for $350 million.

Also, Jason Katz, a former BNP Paribas trader on the Central and Eastern European, Middle Eastern and African currency desk, pleaded guilty to violating federal antitrust laws.

BNP Paribas in a statement on the guilty plea said since the time cited in the criminal case, the company "has proactively implemented extensive measures to strengthen its systems of control and compliance; has increased resources and staff dedicated to these functions; conducted extensive staff training; and launched a new code of conduct, which applies to all staff."

BNP Paribas is the sixth bank to plead guilty to Justice Department charges of FX manipulation. In May 2015, Citigroup, J.P. Morgan Chase, Barclays and Royal Bank of Scotland paid a total of more than $2.5 billion in criminal fines over manipulation of U.S. dollar and euro trades, and UBS paid a separate $203 million criminal penalty for manipulating the London Interbank Offered Rate and other benchmark FX rates.

Bloomberg contributed to this story.