Libor legal proceedings to stretch for years

Lengthy regulatory and criminal proceedings mean that the Libor scandal is not likely to disappear from the headlines any time soon

The expansive probe into Libor manipulation is set to continue for a few years yet, as complex investigations into the rigging remain drawn out.

“The scandal has got a lot of life in it yet,” says David Corker, partner at London law firm Corker Binning. “In fact, we could be receiving our pensions by the time it’s all over.”

To date, US and UK regulators have penalised seven banks and brokers, including Barclays, UBS and Lloyds, though a number of other banks remain in the firing line.

Meanwhile, the number of individuals facing criminal charges grows. Corker points out that there is generally a significant time lag between regulatory settlements and criminal proceedings. Once a bank settles with a regulator, charges tend to be made against individuals of that bank within the next 12 to 18 months. And with a number of suspected banks yet to announce any settlements, the Libor scandal isn’t likely to be over any time soon.

Given the far-reaching nature of the scandal, lengthy proceedings should not come as a particular surprise, according to Peter Bible, partner at US accounting firm EisnerAmper. “Although the act of rate rigging was not that complicated, it’s the investigation that has become complex. This is largely due to the fact that the scandal involves global banks, each in different jurisdictions,” he says.

Criminal authorities in the US and UK have charged 19 former traders to date, some of whom face charges in both countries. Former Rabobank traders Takayuki Yagami and Paul Robson this year pleaded guilty in the US to conspiracy to commit wire and bank fraud, and are due to face sentencing in June 2017.

Former UBS and Citibank yen trader Tom Hayes will face a jury trial in the UK in January 2015, following his ‘not guilty’ plea in December 2013, while two former RP Martin traders, Terry Farr and James Gilmour, will face trial in the UK in September 2015. Many more – including six former Barclays traders and two former-Icap brokers – await their time in court.

An overview of the progress of the Libor investigations will be published in October’s Operational Risk & Regulation.