News Column

With Libor, it's not the fine: it's the fine words

July 27, 2014

Roll up, roll up. Any day now another fine for rigging Libor should drop from the Financial Conduct Authority (plus the usual queue of US regulators who like to receive their tribute).

Bailed-out Lloyds Banking Group is the latest target and is thought to be drafting a cheque for pounds 200m-pounds 300m, but - as with all of the Libor fines so far - the number is the least entertaining bit, as the fines are always accompanied by the pages of emails and electronic chats used as evidence.

When Barclays got done, we saw one from a trader lauding a pal for fixing the rate with the line: "When I retire and write a book about this business, your name will be written in golden letters." The reply: "I would prefer this not be in any book!"

Then Royal Bank of Scotland got clobbered, and we learned of a broker telling one of the bank's Libor submitters: "I'll send lunch around for everybody." And as Swiss bank UBS was whacked, we were treated to a trader's promise that "I will fucking do one humongous deal with you".

The intriguing thing about these messages is that the senders never tried to conceal them, suggesting nobody at these varied institutions thought they were doing anything wrong. Still, blame rogue individuals please - not the City's culture.

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Source: Observer (UK)

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