More banks probed over rate rigging

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More banks could be caught in the scandal which saw Barclays pay £290m to settle claims that it used underhand tactics to try to rig financial markets.

The Financial Services Authority (FSA) disclosed that it had a number of other investigations under way in the wake of the allegations that Barclays manipulated the rates at which banks lend to each other.

“We have a number of investigations that are ongoing,” Tracey McDermott, said the FSA’s acting director of enforcement and financial crime.

“Obviously we need to look at each case on its own particular facts but the initial indications are that Barclays was not the only firm that was involved in this.”

The chairman of the Commons Treasury Committee, Andrew Tyrie, said they would now be summoning Barclays chief executive Bob Diamond to account for what had happened.

“Banks were clearly acting in concert. I fear it’s not going to be the end of the story, that we are going to find that other banks have been involved,” he said.

The penalties from UK and US regulators, including a record £59.5m fine from the Financial Services Authority (FSA), followed claims Barclays manipulated the Libor and Euribor interbank lending rates.

In the depths of the financial crisis, Barclays gave false information about the interest rates it had to pay to borrow money in an effort to paint a false picture of its health to markets.

Mr Diamond, who was in charge of Barclays Capital at the time the breaches occurred between 2005 and 2009, apologised and said he and three other key executives would waive their bonuses for this year.

A trail of emails and messages disclosed by the FSA showed how traders broke so-called Chinese Walls, which are designed to avoid conflicts of interest within financial firms, as they requested Barclays make changes to the Libor rate in a bid to boost their profits.

In one request for a change to the Libor rate, a trader said: “Coffees will be coming your way either way, just to say thank you for your help in the past few weeks”. To which the Barclays submitter responded: “Done, for you big boy.”

After one submitter of information responded favourably to a trader’s request to lower a closely-watched interest rate, the trader came back: “When I retire and write a book about this business your name will be written in golden letters.”

The scandal is another blow to the beleaguered banking sector as it battles to restore its tarnished image in the wake of the financial crisis, the scandal of mis-sold PPI and the computer problems at RBS which froze millions out of their accounts.

Barclays is the first major financial institution to settle with regulators following a wide-ranging probe that has spanned North America and Europe.

Mr Diamond said: “I am sorry that some people acted in a manner not consistent with our culture and values.

“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.

“Nothing is more important to me than having a strong culture at Barclays.”

MP John Mann, a member of the Treasury Committee, called for Mr Diamond and RBS chief executive Stephen Hester to be “de-bonused” by taking away the biggest bonus they received over the last three years from their pay.

He said: “Bank bosses have been happy to justify their huge bonuses, claiming it is needed to reward success.

“As we have a meltdown in RBS consumer services and the equivalent of fraud in fiddling interest rates at Barclays, the abject failure of both of these bankers needs to be recognised in their annual pay.”

The fine from the FSA would have been £85m had Barclays not co-operated.