Friday, 26 November 2021

RBS, Barclays and other banks fined in Swiss franc Libor case

LONDON: Royal Bank of Scotland and Barclays are among banks hit with SFr99m (£78m) of fines by the Swiss competition regulator for operating four separate cartels, as the international fallout from the Libor rate-rigging scandal spreads. The two British lenders were hit with a combined £37m in fines, while HSBC, Lloyds and City of London brokers Icap, Tullett Prebon and RP Martin all remain under investigation by Switzerland’s competition commission, Comco. Barclays was fined £23.5m by Comco for colluding to influence interest rate derivatives by manipulating Euribor, used for euro loans between banks. The British lender was found to have participated in cartel behaviour over 32 months, while RBS was fined £9.7m for eight months of participation. Proceedings against a slew of other banks including HSBC are ongoing, while Deutsche Bank received immunity for blowing the whistle on the cartel. “The cartel aimed at distorting the normal course of pricing components for interest rate derivatives in euro,” said Comco. “Traders of different banks occasionally discussed their bank’s submissions for the calculation of the Euribor as well as their trading and pricing strategies.” The probe also saw France’s Société Générale fined £2.6m, while proceedings remain open against JP Morgan, BNP Paribas, Credit Agricole and Rabobank. RBS was granted immunity in a separate probe into collusion with JP Morgan to influence the Swiss franc version of the Libor interest rate, after it told regulators of the activity. Comco fined JP Morgan £27m after concluding that the two banks had operated a “bilateral cartel” between March 2008 and July 2009, with the aim of influencing the benchmark rate.

RBS received full immunity for revealing the existence of the cartel to Comco, while JP Morgan had its fine reduced after cooperating with the regulator’s inquiries. A third probe into yen Libor rates saw the regulator hand out £11.3m of fines, including a £3m penalty for RBS, for manipulation that took place between 2007 and 2010. The proceedings continue against banks including HSBC and Lloyds, while Icap, RP Martin and Tullett Prebon were also named as being subject to ongoing scrutiny, along with Rabobank and UBS. A final probe into the spread on Swiss franc interest rate derivatives resulted in £4.25m of fines, including just £670,000 for RBS, after its penalty was reduced for cooperation with the regulator. The scale of the Swiss regulator’s penalties pale in comparison to those dished out by European competition authorities earlier this month. Three major banks – including HSBC – were fined €485m (£412m) for colluding to manipulate the crucial Euribor benchmark rate, after a five-year investigation. The trio had chosen not to take part in an earlier settlement that included RBS and Barclays. The rate-rigging scandal has seen banks hit with hundreds of millions of pounds in fines from a variety of regulators, while bankers from Barclays and UBS have been jailed.

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