Libor Criminal Charges Imminent

Libor Criminal Charges Imminent

British prosecutors are expected to file criminal charges against UBS AG and Citigroup trader Tom Hayes for allegedly attempting to rig the all-important Libor (London Interbank Offered Rate), reports the Wall Street Journal.

The Libor is a benchmark interest rate used to set an estimated $800 trillion in financial instruments.  

So far, British officials have not filed any criminal charges; the U.S. Justice Department charged Hayes and another associate late last year with conspiracy to commit fraud. However, as the Journal notes, if British prosecutors successfully prosecute Hayes, he would not face U.S. charges due to British double-jeopardy laws that prevent someone charged in the U.K. from being extradited for the same crime.

Hayes has remained mum about his alleged role in Libor rigging. In January, however, he sent a text message to the Journal that said “this goes much much higher than me.”

U.S. and British officials are expected to bring several additional criminal charges stemming from the Libor rate-rigging scandal. 

Several banks have already paid hefty fines and penalties for alleged involvement in Libor manipulation. The Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) paid U.S. and British authorities $612 million; Switzerland’s UBS AG agreed to fork over $1.5 billion; and Britain’s Barclays Plc has shelled out $453 million.