Morgan Stanley, Citigroup cooperate with DOJ derivatives inquiry

A dozen firms allegedly colluded

Morgan Stanley and Citigroup Inc. said they’re cooperating with the U.S. Justice Department’s four-year-old antitrust probe into the credit-default swaps market.

The two firms were among more than a dozen financial institutions accused by the European Union last month of colluding to curb competition in credit derivatives.

“The company and others have also responded to an ongoing investigation by the antitrust division of the United States Department of Justice related to the CDS market,” Morgan Stanley, owner of the world’s largest brokerage, said yesterday in a quarterly filing.

Citigroup, the third-biggest U.S. bank by assets, said in a quarterly filing that it had responded to civil investigative demands from the DOJ’s antitrust division “concerning potential anticompetitive conduct in the CDS industry” in July 2009 and in September 2011. Spokesmen for both New York-based companies declined to comment.

The Justice Department sent civil investigative notices in July 2009 to banks that own London-based Markit Group Ltd., a provider of data on derivatives and bonds, to find out if they had unfair access to price information, three people familiar with the matter said at the time. Bloomberg LP, the owner of Bloomberg News, competes with Markit in selling information to the financial-services industry.

Markit’s shareholders included JPMorgan Chase & Co., Bank of America Corp., Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc and Goldman Sachs Group Inc., according to filings with the U.K.’s Companies House at the time.

The investigation widened last year to include other companies in the credit-default swap market, people familiar with the matter said in May 2012.

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