Municipalities Sue Financial Firms, Allege Price-Fixing in Derivatives

A group of state and municipal governments, including Mississippi, Chicago and Fairfax County, Va., said Friday they sued multiple financial-services firms, alleging price-fixing and bid-rigging in the municipal derivatives industry.

The suits were filed against 37 financial-services firms, including Merrill Lynch & Co., JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Morgan Stanley.

JPMorgan Chase and Merrill Lynch declined to comment. Morgan Stanley was not immediately available to comment.

In a statement, attorneys representing the government said the defendants conspired to deprive the group of extra money they would have received from their municipal bond investments. The suits, filed in federal court in Washington, allege the price-fixing and bid-rigging dates back to 1992.

Municipal derivatives are used to invest proceeds of municipal bonds.