By MARK GREENBLATT and AARON KATERSKY
Regulators in the U.S. and U.K. have reached a $450 million settlement with Barclays, the world’s third-largest bank, over allegations that it tried to manipulate worldwide interest rates for its own financial gain.
The U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission and the Department of justice announced today that U.K.-based Barclays tried to influence something called the Libor rate, a worldwide benchmark for interest rates, for a period of years dating back at least until 2005.
The London Interbank Offered Rate is supposed to reflect the rate at which top banks in London lend to each other. Libor is used in the U.S. and other nations to set some $564 trillion in student loans, mortgages, credit cards and car loans.
This morning the federal agencies announced Barclays reached separate settlements with CFTC, DOJ, and the British agency FSA, the financial services authority in England. More than $450 million in fines were levied, including $160 million to the DOJ. Barclays is one of 16 banks polled daily to set the Libor rates and other banks may be involved in the case.
Emails investigators found show traders inside Barclays wrongfully contacted the division of the bank that influences interest rates. The wrongful conduct is said to have happened on an almost daily basis at times. The goal was to benefit the bank’s derivative trading positions by influencing the rates they were tied to.
“We have another big fixing tom[orrow] and with the market move I was hoping we could set the 1M and 3M Libors as high as possible,” read an email from a trader to the Barclays department that reported the Libor rates.
As a part of the settlement Barclays will be required to cease and desist from further similar activity.
According to the news service Press Association, Barclays chief executive Bob Diamond is to forgo his bonus for this year.
“The events which gave rise to today’s resolutions relate to past actions which fell well short of the standards to which Barclays aspires in the conduct of its business,” Diamond said in a statement today.