Banks Fined Record £1.42bn For Rate-Rigging
Eight global banks have been fined a combined £1.42bn by the European Commission for forming illegal cartels to rig benchmark interest rates.
Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) was handed a £325m†penalty for its role though Barclays was spared a bill because it blew the whistle on the wrongdoing.
The other banks named as participating in the alleged cartel were Deutsche Bank - which is to pay the largest individual penalty of £602m - Societe Generale, Credit Agricole, HSBC, JPMorgan, UBS and Citigroup.
The UK brokerage RP†Martin was ordered to pay £205,000.
HSBC's†role was still under consideration, the Commission said, though the collective fine amounted to the biggest handed down by the EU.
The benchmarks involved were the London interbank offered rate Libor, the Tokyo interbank offered rate and the euro area equivalents - all used to price hundreds of trillions of pounds in assets ranging from mortgages to derivatives.
The EU said that not every bank was involved in manipulating every rate but competition commissioner Joaquin Almunia said the most shocking aspect of the case was the "collusion between banks who are supposed to be competing with each other."
Although other fines have been levied against individual banks by US and UK regulators for manipulating interest rates, the Commission said it has sole responsibility for punishing cartels in the European Economic Area.
Part-privatised RBS was previously fined £390m†over the rate-rigging while Barclays was handed a £290m penalty.
Both banking groups - along with London-listed HSBC - are currently subject to a separate probe by the Financial Conduct Authority and other world regulators into the alleged manipulation of foreign currency markets.
It emerged that eight personnel - six of them at Barclays and two at RBS - were suspended as the investigation got underway.
Both banks have also set aside billions of pounds to cover the mis-selling of payment protection insurance (PPI) while the industry is also being urged to quickly compensate businesses who were wrongly sold interest rate swap products.
In the wake of today's penalty, RBS said it had already made provisions for the payments.
Its statement said: "Since becoming aware in 2011 of improper conduct in connection with rate setting, RBS management has taken action to strengthen significantly the systems and controls governing its submissions of Libor†and other trading rates."
Chairman Sir Philip Hampton added: "We acknowledged back in February that there were serious shortcomings in our systems and controls on this issue, but also in the integrity of a very small number of our employees.
"Today is another sobering reminder of those past failings and nobody should be in any doubt about how seriously we have taken this issue.
"The RBS board and new management team condemn the behaviour of the individuals who were involved in these activities.
"There is no place for it at RBS," he said.
Barclays also released a statement that recognised its wrongdoing in relation to euro rates but added: "Barclays voluntarily reported the Euribor conduct to the Commission and cooperated fully with the Commission's investigation.
"In recognition of this cooperation, Barclays has been granted full immunity from the financial penalties that would otherwise have applied."