The U.S. Justice Department has launched an investigation into whether hedge funds might have acted together betting against the euro, a source familiar with the situation said on Wednesday.
The Wall Street Journal earlier, citing people familiar with the matter, said that the department has asked hedge funds including SAC Capital Advisors LP, Greenlight Capital Inc., Soros Fund Management LLC and Paulson & Co. to retain trading records and emails relating to the euro.
The euro has come under selling pressure during the Greek debt crisis, losing more 10 percent since November, and the newspaper said the request, dated Feb. 26, coincided with its article describing gatherings of hedge fund managers where the euro was discussed.
One of the questions investigators are likely to examine is whether such information-sharing amounts to collusion, the Journal quoted the sources as saying.
The Justice Department's letter said the antitrust division "has opened an investigation into agreements among various hedge funds that trade euro contracts," the newspaper quoted a source as saying.
The letter requested that the funds "preserve all documents" and electronic communications relating to agreements to trade the euro or communications about agreements to trade currencies, the source said.
The reported Justice Department probe comes at a time when financial institutions are facing scrutiny over their role in the Greek financial crisis.
Critics accuse Wall Street firms of exacerbating the crisis by first helping governments mask their debts through derivatives deals only to benefit later from them by driving down the value of securities related to them.
Last week, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said the U.S. central bank was looking into derivatives transactions that financial firms made with Greece.
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