London: Barclays Plc, Britain’s second-biggest bank by assets, agreed to pay £290 million (Dh1.7 billion) in penalties to settle US and UK probes into whether it sought to rig the London and euro interbank offered rates.
Barclays chief executive officer Bob Diamond and other executives will forgo their bonuses as a result, the bank said in a statement.
“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 the statement.
The settlements with the UK’s Financial Services Authority, the US Commodities Futures Trading Commission and US Department of Justice come as regulators look into whether banks tried to manipulate Libor, the benchmark rate for $360 trillion (Dh1,322 trillion) of securities, to hide their true cost of borrowing, and whether traders colluded to rig the benchmark to profit from interest-rate derivatives.
Royal Bank of Scotland, Citigroup, UBS, ICAP, Lloyds and Deutsche Bank are among firms that are being probed by regulators worldwide.
Libor is derived from a survey of banks conducted each day on behalf of the British Bankers’ Association in London. Lenders are asked how much it would cost them to borrow from each other for 15 different periods, from overnight to one year, in currencies including dollars, euros, yen and Swiss francs. After a set number of quotes are excluded, those remaining are averaged and published for each currency by the BBA before noon.
Employees responsible for Libor submissions have said in interviews with Bloomberg they regularly discussed where to set the measure with traders sitting near them, interdealer brokers and counterparts at rival banks. The talks became common practice after money markets froze in 2007, they said, making it difficult for individual bankers to gauge the cost of borrowing from other lenders.
Regulators are focusing on the lack of so-called Chinese walls between traders and employees making interest-rate submissions on behalf of their banks, and whether the banks’ proprietary trading desks exploited the information they had about the direction of Libor to trade interest-rate derivatives.