The French financial market regulator (AMF) fined US bank Morgan Stanley €20 million for manipulating French and Belgian bond prices at the height of the Greek debt crisis in June 2015.
Morgan Stanley bought a massive volume of French and Belgian bond issues within 15 minutes on June 15 and sold French and Belgian bonds in the morning of June 16.
“The traders on the desk knew that on June 16, 2015, there was high volatility and low liquidity on the market, which would necessarily increase the impact of their operations,” the regulator said.
The aim was to artificially manipulate bond prices having first increased demand and then selling at a premium. According to the AMF regulator, this constitutes “price manipulation” and, therefore, “a form of deception,” undermining the outlook of the French sovereign bond market.
Morgan Stanley expressed disappointment with the ruling, maintains that its actions are “consistent with market practices,” and will appeal the decision.