The US Department of Justice (DoJ) is reported to have launched an investigation into possible antitrust violations in the market for supranational, sovereign and agency bonds (SSA bond market) which has been valued at USD 9 trillion or more.
The investigation is reported to be focused on whether London-based traders violated fraud or antitrust laws, primarily before 2014, by coordinating with each other before deciding who would offer price quotes to potential buyers and sellers.
The investigation is said to be an early stage, and to concern secondary markets rather than bond issuance.
The identity of the firms that are being investigated is not yet in the public domain. As in other recent investigations in the financial sector, online chat-room communications appear to be a particular focus of the authorities.
In such cases, scrutiny by one or more competition or regulatory authorities may trigger investigations by other authorities, and self-reporting obligations may also arise. For example, a firm must notify the UK Financial Conduct Authority if it has or may have committed a significant infringement of any applicable competition law.