At least three banks seen central to Libor rigging
By Carrick Mollenkamp and Emily Flitter
(Reuters) - New details from court documents and sources close to the Libor scandal investigation suggest that groups of traders working at three major European banks were heavily involved in rigging global benchmark interest rates.
Some of those traders, including one who used to work at Barclays Plc in New York, still have senior positions on Wall Street trading desks.
Until now, most of the attention has involved traders at Barclays, which last month reached a $453 million settlement with U.S. and UK authorities for its role in the manipulation of rates. Now, it is becoming clear that traders from at least two other banks - UK-based Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc and Switzerland's UBS AG - played a central role.
Among them, the three banks employed more than a dozen traders who sought to influence rates in either dollar, euro or yen rates. Some of the traders who are being probed have worked for several banks under scrutiny, raising the possibility that the rate fixing became more ingrained as traders changed jobs.
The documents reviewed by Reuters in analyzing the traders' involvement included court filings by Canadian regulators who have been investigating potential antitrust issues; settlement documents with Barclays filed by the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission in Washington and by the Financial Services Authority in the U.K.; and a private employment lawsuit filed by a former RBS trader in Singapore's High Court.
The scandal, which began to come to light in 2008, has become a time bomb for regulators and a big focus for politicians on both sides of the Atlantic. At issue is the manipulation between at least 2005 and 2009 of rates that are used to determine the cost of trillions of dollars of borrowings, including everything from home loans to credit card rates.
One former Barclays employee under scrutiny, Reuters has learned, is Jay V. Merchant, according to people familiar with the situation. Merchant, who oversaw the U.S. dollar swaps trading desk at Barclays in New York, worked for the bank from March 2006 to October 2009, according to employment records maintained by the U.S. Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA).
Merchant currently holds a similar position at UBS, where he works out of the Swiss bank's offices in Stamford, Connecticut, according to FINRA. He did not return requests for comment. Continued...