Another lawsuit against London gold fix banks

The five banks involved in the London gold fix are now facing a second lawsuit over allegations of price manipulation.

AIS Capital Management has filed the suit against Barclays, Deutsche Bank, HSBC Holdings, Bank of Nova Scotia, and Société Générale SA, claiming that the group "combined, conspired, and agreed with one another and unnamed co-conspirators to manipulate the prices of gold and gold derivatives contracts," the Wall Street Journal revealed on Tuesday.

AIS Capital, which runs three funds investing in gold buillion and futures, is seeking compensation of at least $5 million "for all groups that invested" in the gold market over the past decade, the Financial Times writes.

The five banks have been setting the gold price twice per day in London since 1919, creating a benchmark price for the yellow metal.

Lately the process has faced serious scrutiny over allegations that the banks have been manipulating the price for their own gain. British and German regulators have both launched investigations.

AIS Capital's suit follows a very similar case introduced last week by New York resident Kevin Maher. In his suit Maher points to a research paper from New York University that showed signs of gold price manipulation. According to Bloomberg, which first wrote about the study, the report authors reveal "unusual trading patterns."

“The structure of the benchmark is certainly conducive to collusion and manipulation, and the empirical data are consistent with price artificiality,” the study reads. “It is likely that co-operation between participants may be occurring.”

Though both cases are still in their early stages, Barclays' share price has taken a hit, dropping 2.4% on Tuesday.

At least one big name has come out in defence of the gold fix banks. Ross Norman, CEO of Sharps Pixley – a London-based bullion brokerage – recently published an article arguing that the gold price is not rigged. Norman says 'reports' merely conclude that the process is "open to manipulation."

"You could add that any deal on the floor of any exchange or where there is a human element has precisely the same weakness," Norman wrote. "To presume guilt is something altogether different."

Norman then called out Bloomberg for "a lack of journalistic discretion and judgement … and a failure to ask the right questions …"

Read Norman's full explanation here.