Banks and broker-dealers ensnared in the Libor-rigging scandal are facing fresh pressure to settle with Europe's top competition authority as it expands the scope of its probes.
The European Commission's 18-month antitrust investigation, previously known to include yen and euro interbank rates, has been extended to include Swiss franc-denominated swaps and poses a significant regulatory threat to the financial institutions under scrutiny, according to people familiar with the probe.
The commission can impose a maximum penalty equivalent to 10 per cent of a company's global turnover for each cartel it is found to be involved with. A bank implicated in all three rate-fixing cases could, for example, face fines of up to 30 per cent of total revenues.
(Read More: Recent Libor Settlements Are Just Tip of the Iceberg)
In a speech on Friday in Paris, the EU's competition commissioner will stress his determination to pursue the cases and ensure competition enforcement complements actions of global authorities against misconduct and corruption.
Joaqun Almunia's speech is intended as a warning to financial institutions that are holding out against antitrust authorities. According to people involved in the probe, Brussels is informally exploring the potential for settlements, but some companies are unwilling to open discussions over what they consider to be unfounded allegations of wrongdoing.
At least a dozen banks and interdealer brokers are potentially under the spotlight of the three separate EU probes, according to regulatory findings and Financial Times investigations. While US and UK financial regulators have already fined three banks including Barclays and UBS over rigging interbank lending benchmarks, only Royal Bank of Scotland has so far admitted to breaking antitrust rules in a settlement with the US Department of Justice.