It seems clear that the LIBOR figures were subject to manipulation. Many banks are under investigation. The Royal Bank of Scotland agreed to pay $610 million in fines to UK and U.S. regulators for its role in the Libor rate-rigging scandal. As part of that settlement, the U.K.’s Financial Services Authority released emails and other communications between traders, employees who submitted Libor rate information, and in some cases, traders and other employees outside the three banks. They tell a sad tale of manipulation and fraud.
Trader C: “The big day [has] arrived… My NYK are screaming at me about an unchanged 3m libor. As always, any help wd be greatly appreciated. What do you think you’ll go for 3m?”
Barclays Submitter: “I am going 90 altho 91 is what I should be posting”.
Trader C: “[…] when I retire and write a book about this business your name will be written in golden letters […]”.
Submitter: “I would prefer this [to] not be in any book!”
Rarely do you find the email that exonerates you. It’s always the email with something stupid that makes you and your company look bad. Sometimes, the communication is out of context. Sometimes, it’s just the stupidity of the sender who thinks the message is as ephemeral as a nod in the hallway.
Martin Lomasney created a famous saying on the importance of discretion: “Never write if you can speak; never speak if you can nod; never nod if you can wink.”
From one trader to another broker:
“if you keep 6s [i.e. the six-month Japanese Libor rate] unchanged today… I will f***ing do one humongous deal with you … Like a 50, 000 buck deal, whatever. I need you to keep it as low as possible … if you do that … I’ll pay you, you know, 50,000 dollars, 100,000 dollars … whatever you want … I’m a man of my word.”
He may have been a man of his word. But he was not a man of honor or ethics. He sought blatant market manipulation for his own gain. Foolishly, we wrote it down, leaving his mark of dishonor for all to see.