EU: Western Union questioned in money transfer antitrust probe

Western Union is at the center of a preliminary European Union antitrust inquiry into allegations the company colluded with banks to drive rivals out of the multibillion dollar money-transfer market.

The EU began quizzing firms about the issue in recent weeks, according to two people familiar with the matter, who asked not to be named because the process is private.

The European Commission is examining claims that banks agreed to close accounts of some smaller money-transfer providers, citing concerns that money they deposited may be linked to drug-trafficking or terrorism, one of the people said. Without an account in Europe, smaller remittance firms can’t offer their services as the money transits through the banking system.

Western Union is “cooperating with the European Commission following a request for information on the company’s business in Europe,” the Englewood, Colorado-based company said in a statement. It’s “fully supportive of improving understanding of the money transfer sector within a broader competitive framework.”

Prominent fines, including a $1.9 billion money-laundering charge against HSBC Holdings Plc in 2012 and a $1.7 billion settlement in 2014 for JPMorgan Chase & Co. related to money-laundering controls, reinforced the perception of danger.

Full content: Reuters

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