The major British bank HSBC can avert a penalty for participating in an interest rate cartel for the time being.

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) confirmed on Thursday the cancellation of a fine of 33.6 million euros imposed by the EU Commission (Case C-883/19 P).

This was insufficiently justified.

However, the ECJ also confirmed that HSBC was involved in the cartel in question.

In December 2016, the EU Commission decided that the three major banks, Crédit Agricole, JPMorgan Chase and HSBC, should pay a total of around 485 million euros in fines for manipulating the Euribor reference interest rate.

Specifically, the Commission imposed a fine of around EUR 33.6 million on HSBC, a good EUR 114 million on Crédit Agricole and more than EUR 337 million on JPMorgan Chase.

For the Brussels competition authorities, it was the end of years of investigation into the scandal.

However, the banks complained.

Crédit Agricole and JPMorgan Chase are still pending before the General Court of the EU.

In the case of HSBC, the General Court of the European Union had already passed a judgment in 2019 and overturned the sentence.

HSBC acted illegally, but the fine was insufficiently calculated.

The ECJ now shares this assessment in its judgment.

The case is not off the table: the EU Commission recalculated the fine in the summer of 2021 and set it at 31.7 million euros.

HSBC has again brought an action before the EU General Court in separate proceedings (Case T-561/21).