BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The world's biggest interdealer broker TP ICAP (>> TP ICAP PLC) on Friday won its fight against a 14.9 million euro ($17.3 million) fine related to the Libor scandal, as a European court dismissed part of the regulatory ruling and threw out the fine.
The judgment from the Luxembourg-based General Court, Europe's second-highest court, is the latest setback for the European Commission. It came two months after a higher court sent a landmark case against U.S. chipmaker Intel (>> Intel Corporation) back to the lower tribunal for review.
The EU competition authority penalised ICAP in February 2015 for rigging the yen Libor financial benchmark in several cartels with Royal Bank of Scotland (>> Royal Bank of Scotland Group), UBS (>> UBS Group), Deutsche Bank (>> Deutsche Bank) and Citigroup (>> Citigroup) at various periods.
The banks admitted taking part in the cartels in return for a cut in the penalties in December 2013 except for ICAP, which denied wrongdoing.
But judges said the Commission's decision against the interdealer broker was flawed in several aspects.
"The Court takes the view that the Commission has not succeeded in proving that ICAP participated in one of the cartels, that the duration found by the Commission of ICAP's participation in three cartels was excessive and that it failed to provide sufficient reasons as regards the methodology for calculating the fine," they said.
The court annulled the part of the decision setting the fines because it was insufficiently reasoned. Judges also told the Commission to respect the presumption of innocence for companies which decline to settle with regulators.
The EU executive said it would analyse the judgment. In previous cases, it had re-issued decisions keeping the fines or reducing the figures.
ICAP welcomed the ruling and said it would consider its options together with British financial trading technology company NEX (>> NEX Group PLC) which was known as ICAP before it sold its voice broking business to TP ICAP last year.
Credit Agricole (>> Crédit Agricole), HSBC (>> HSBC Holdings) and JPMorgan (>> JP Morgan Chase & Company) have also appealed against their fines in another cartel involving the euro interbank offered rate (Euribor), saying they have done nothing wrong.
The regulatory crackdown on cartels in various financial benchmarks on both sides of the Atlantic has resulted in billions of dollars in sanctions. The Commission is currently looking into possible wrongdoing involving foreign exchange and the government sponsored bond market.
($1 = 0.8593 euros)
(Reporting by Foo Yun Chee; Editing by Hugh Lawson and Mark Potter)
By Foo Yun Chee