As our earlier article explains, the deviation for some of the other banks reporting their LIBOR interest figures were worse those of Barclays. Robert Diamond, the former CEO of Barclays, has been making that point too.
His response is a little petulant: the others were also naughty, so why are we being punished?
Perhaps because in Barclays’ case there’s irrefutable proof.
But he does have a point. What is being done about the other banks?
The conversation between Mr Diamond and Paul Tucker of the Bank of England on October 29, 2008 that Barclays figures were higher than the others also raises some questions. Manipulation of LIBOR was already an issue after the Wall Street Journal published it’s proof in May 2008.
In that context, it seems improbable that Tucker’s query about the higher rates would be an attempt to induce the manipulation of LIBOR.
So far we don’t have the notes from the conversation between Mr Diamond and Jerry Del Missier, the former Barclays executive who took Tucker’s question as an instruction to manipulate the LIBOR figures.
Perhaps they don’t exist – anymore.
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Bob Diamond, the CEO of Barclays, has resigned. Now he is claiming that he is being penalized for owning up first.
Perhaps he should revisit some of the other things he has said in the last few days. For example, that Barclays had acted as soon as senior management were aware of the manipulation. Now it appears that Mr Diamond was aware of the manipulation as early as 2008, and that he believed that Barclays was operating under instruction from Paul Tucker, deputy governor of the Bank of England. The conflicting stories suggest that Mr Diamond has not yet realized that lying is what caused this problem in the first place.
Barclays is being brought to book, but another large corporate is quietly slipping under the radar.
Wyndham hotels allowed hundreds of thousands of hotel customers’credit card details to be stolen from their computer systems in at least three breaches. The most basic security measures were not followed. The critical data was not encrypted. On a modern database encrypting the data is a matter of ticking a box.
Their defense: “They were unaware of any customers losing money as a result of the breach”.
Anyone who has had the experience of being defrauded will know that the perpetrators aren’t very communicative about where they obtained the credit card details. When it happened to me, my card had only ever been used for five transactions, none of them online. It wasn’t possible to figure out which purchase had exposed me to the fraud.
The lack of concern for customers is evidenced by the carelessness. That’s bad enough, but it’s their arrogance that deserves to be punished.
What did Bank of England say to Barclays about Libor?
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A spook speaks
Since this was originally published:
On May 29, 2008 the Wall Street Journal published an article “Study Casts Doubt on Key Rate” substantiating its doubts published on April 16, 2008. In it they questioned why the rates of 5 of the 16 banks used for the calculation of LIBOR differed significantly from rising default insurance costs.
At that stage, the authors speculated that one of the possible causes was that the banks were lying.
Now we know that for Barclays that was the case. Interestingly, Barclays was not among the five banks originally exposed in the research, being ranked further down the list.
The two components making up an interest rate are the risk free rate and the borrowers risk premium. Not only were the banks benefitting financially from the misstatement, they were misrepresenting the market’s assessment of their risk, at a time when this was critical.
Immediately after the article on April 16 was published, the anomaly disappeared. LIBOR rose dramatically, and the shocks of 2008 started to take effect.
Did the banks cause the crash or were they just the catalyst?
Either way, they have some questions to answer.
More at: Move Over Subprime? Financial Institutions and Brokers Face Increasing Concerns Over Allegation of Improper Libor Manipulation
LIBOR Manipulation: A Brief Overview of the Debate
Study Casts Doubt on Key Rate
Banks are different from other business. Money is their stock in trade. A big part of the huge profits that they make is the difference between the interest that they charge (their income) and the interest that they pay (their cost).
The banks dishonestly adjusted the interest that they pay by manipulating LIBOR. The system of setting LIBOR, simply canvassing the banks by asking them what rates they were paying, with no checks and balances, opened it up for manipulation.
The traders who are responsible for working in the derivatives market worth $554 trillion in 2011 (37 times U.S. GDP) are not supposed to communicate with the people being canvassed for the LIBOR rate. They did. The traders asked their colleagues to manipulate the figures submitted for LIBOR, and the response was a positive “done for you big boy“.
Barclays has just been fined $93 million by the UK’s FSA and $450 million by the U.S. DoJ after owning up. Now they face law-suits from the people they ripped-off, which will certainly amount to a lot more. The time frame of the “crime” – 2005 to 2009. The FSA and DoJ may have settled for too little.
Barclays are not the only ones. Other banks are being investigated.
Watch this spot.
Q&A: Barclays and bank rates
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Barclays ‘attempted to manipulate interest rates’
More banks face interest rate rigging investigation
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Q&A: Barclays and bank rates
Inter-bank interest rates Cleaning up LIBOR
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Inter-bank interest rates Fixing LIBOR
BANKERS GONE WILD