The Wall Street Journal: FBI probing if American Express misrepresented foreign-exchange pricing

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The Federal Bureau of Investigation has launched a probe into pricing practices within American Express Co.’s foreign-exchange unit, according to people familiar with the matter.

The investigation, which is being run out of the FBI’s Washington field office, is in its early stages and is focused on whether the foreign-exchange international payments department misrepresented pricing to clients in order to win their business, the people said.

The FBI began its investigation in August, the people said, after The Wall Street Journal, citing current and former employees, reported that AmEx’s foreign-exchange unit had recruited business clients with offers of low currency-conversion rates before raising prices without warning.

An AmEx

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  spokeswoman declined to comment on the FBI investigation. In July, Amex said it took the allegations very seriously and would conduct a review. The unit’s employees have been instructed to avoid deleting emails, people familiar with the instructions said. The FBI is in the fact-gathering stage of the investigation, the people familiar with the matter said. The bureau is communicating with AmEx and is waiting for the company to answer a list of questions, they said.

An expanded version of this report appears on WSJ.com.

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