By Karen Freifeld
NEW YORK, Nov 13 (Reuters) - Credit Suisse Group AG has agreed to pay $135 million to settle allegations that its foreign exchange traders deceived customers, improperly shared their information and tried to manipulate currency prices, the New York State Department of Financial Services (DFS) said on Monday.
The settlement stems from a DFS investigation that found "unlawful, unsafe and unsound conduct" in the Swiss bank's forex business from at least 2008 to 2015, the regulator said.
In addition to the fine, Credit Suisse will have to improve its controls and compliance, and hire a consultant to review remedial efforts for at least a year, subject to DFS approval.
Credit Suisse foreign exchange traders used chat rooms to share confidential customer information, coordinate trades and try to manipulate currencies or benchmark rates, DFS said.
Through these communications, the traders were able to trade ahead of clients, or sometimes use a tactic called "building ammo," with which they coordinated activity to ensure they were not taking positions that would hurt one another, the regulator said.
Credit Suisse also used an algorithm offered by its electronic trading platform, eFX, to trade ahead of known client orders, DFS said.
In a statement, DFS Superintendent Maria Vullo blamed Credit Suisse executives who "deliberately fostered a corrupt culture that failed to implement effective controls."
DFS's agreement with Credit Suisse is the latest in a string of global regulatory settlements with big Wall Street banks over forex trading practices since 2015.
Rivals including Citigroup Inc, JPMorgan Chase & Co , Barclays PLC, UBS AG and Royal Bank of Scotland PLC have collectively paid $10 billion to settle allegations by U.S. and European authorities that their forex traders coordinated to cheat clients and boost their own profits. (Reporting by Karen Freifeld; Writing by Lauren Tara LaCapra; Editing by Paul Simao)