#AceFinanceNews – London) – October 07 – A senior banker from a UK bank has admitted conspiring to defraud over manipulating the Libor lending rate.
The banker, who can not be named for legal reasons, is the first person in the UK to plead guilty to the offence.
Two men have already pleaded guilty in the US to fraud offences linked to the rigging of Libor, for years the benchmark by which trillions of pounds of financial contracts are based.
The case arose from the Serious Fraud Office‘s (SFO) investigations.
It began looking into Libor manipulation in 2012 after it emerged that it was being widely abused by leading banks to manipulate rates in their favour.
The SFO’s investigation continues and 11 other individuals stand charged and await trial.
Seven banks and brokerages have settled regulatory allegations of interest rate rigging in the UK and the US after global investigations.
So far, 17 men have been charged with fraud-related offences.
Last month, Lloyds Banking Group dismissed eight staff members following an investigation into the behaviour of its rate setters.
The move follows the bank’s £218m fine in July for “serious misconduct” over the setting of Libor.
18 December 2012 Last updated at 09:21
Libor – what is it and why does it matter?
Libor, the London inter-bank lending rate, is considered to be one of the most important interest rates in finance, upon which trillions of financial contracts rest, and the exposure of its rigging has shocked many beyond the world of finance. Here, the BBC explains some of the key facts.
1. What is Libor?
A global benchmark interest rate used to set a range of financial deals. It is also a measure of trust in the financial system and the faith banks have in each other’s financial health.MortgagesLoansInter-bank
of trustReflects health
2. Why is it important?
The Libor, or London Interbank Offered Rate, is used to set a range of financial transactions worth an estimated $300 trillion.
Which is equivalent to approximately four and a half times global GDP
3. How is it set?Every day a group of leading banks submit rates for 10 currencies and 15 lengths of loan ranging from overnight to 12 months.
The most important is the three-month dollar Libor. The rates submitted are what the banks estimate they would pay other banks to borrow dollars for three months. This is a simple example of how it works.
Banks submit their rates 1% 2% 3% 4% The top and bottom quartiles are discarded 1%2%3% 4% An average is calculated of the remainder 2.5% This is Libor
4. How was it rigged?
Since the rates submitted are estimates not actual transactions it’s relatively easy to submit false figures.
Traders at several banks conspired to influence the Libor by getting colleagues to submit rates that were either higher or lower than their actual estimate.
1% 2% 3% 4% 1%2%3% 4%2.5% Lower average 2% 3% 4% 5% 2%3%4% 5%3.5% Higher average
Libor and the financial crisis
At the height of the financial crisis in late 2007, many banks stopped lending to each other over concerns about their financial health with some banks submitting much higher rates than others.
Barclays was one of those submitting much higher rates, attracting some media attention. This prompted comment that Barclays was in trouble.
Following much internal debate and a controversial conversation with a Bank of England official, Barclays began to submit much lower rates. You can see this in the graph below which compares the Libor rate with those submitted by Barclays.
Barclays’ Libor 3-month sterling submissions vs daily Libor fix
The Libor scandal has further undermined trust in banks. The deputy governor of the Bank of England called the Libor market a “cesspit”.
While those paying interest on loans would have benefited from lower Libor rates, savers and investors would have lost out.
Regulators in Canada, US, Japan, Switzerland, Britain are investigating the rate rigging.
Lawsuits have been launched by US municipalities, pension funds and hedge funds.