Last week, the British bank Barclays was slapped with $450 million in fines and penalties for manipulating information used to set a critical interest rate.
Settlements filed by government regulators in the U.S. and the U.K. show this manipulation happened in two ways: first, Barclays’ traders attempted to steer rates up or down in order to benefit trades they had made to profit off of those rates. Separately, the filings show that during the financial crisis, Barclays tried to counter reports that it had financial troubles by changing the interest rate it reported.
In his testimony, Diamond stuck by the line that everybody was doing it. And indeed, the revelation that banks might have tried to keep their rates artificially low during the crisis isn’t altogether new—in 2008, the Wall Street Journal reported that banks were submitting much lower rate estimates than other market measures would have suggested. In 2008, the British Bankers’ Association said it had received suggestions that banks were exhibiting “herd” behavior in setting low rates.
The Washington Post notes that a manipulated Libor doesn’t just have repercussions for investors and borrowers, but also for regulatory efforts; by keeping rates low during the financial crisis, the banks were trying to quell concerns about the health of the banking system and “stave off calls for additional regulation.”
More at article, including a list and links to the investigations of additional banks being investigated.