Swiss lack appetite for Barclays-style backlash against UBS

Wed Dec 19, 2012 12:42pm EST
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By Tom Miles and Katharina Bart

ZURICH Dec 19 (Reuters) - Unlike the outrage that hit Barclays after the British bank was fined for rigging a benchmark interest rate, reaction in Switzerland to UBS's 1.4 billion franc ($1.53 billion) penalty for the same offence has been muted.

There appears to be little appetite to attack UBS, whose reputation has already been tarnished by a series of damaging mistakes.

The Swiss government and Swiss National Bank both said they had taken note of the penalty, but didn't comment further on Wednesday.

Even Christian Levrat, president of the left-wing Social Democrats (SP) which is typically critical of banks, stopped short of calling for any specific changes at the bank.

He said he wanted UBS to be more transparent and cooperative in unearthing past scandals. "This game of cat-and-mouse must stop," he told Reuters.

The seeming nonchalance over UBS is a sharp contrast with the crisis that engulfed Barclays, which got a much smaller fine of $450 million in June.

Barclays had hoped that it would get some credit by going first in what is expected to be a series of banks making settlements related to manipulating the Libor rate. Instead, the fine triggered a storm of angry newspaper headlines and outrage in parliament and among the British public.

Barclays' chief executive Bob Diamond was forced out of his job less than a week later and Chairman Marcus Agius has also been replaced.   Continued...