July 25, 2012 / 3:58 PM / 5 years ago

EU's Almunia says rates probe may be wider

BRUSSELS, July 25 (Reuters) - The European Commission may have widened its investigation into the manipulation of benchmark interest rates beyond Libor, Euribor and Tibor, the EU antitrust chief said on Wednesday.

The EU executive has been carrying out an antitrust investigation focusing on the London Interbank Offered Rate (Libor), the Euro Interbank Offered Rate (Euribor) and the Tokyo Interbank Offered Rate (Tibor), which are used to price loans around the globe.

But Joaquin Almunia, European Commissioner in charge of antitrust enforcement, indicated that other market benchmarks might be involved too.

"We carried out inspections not only looking at ... possible activities around Libor," he said, "but also looking at Euribor and Tibor and maybe some others."

He did not specify which other rates or products might have been under investigation.

Almunia, who was announcing a string of antitrust decisions, said the Commission had started investigations into the possible manipulation of benchmark rates through the collusion of several financial institutions.

He said that he was cooperating with other international authorities, including in the United States, in conducting the investigation.

Manipulation of Libor, which is used to set prices for trillions of dollars of financial products around the globe, has already landed Barclays with a penalty of $453 million and claimed the scalp of its chief executive. The rate-fixing scandal threatens to drag in several other banks.

The European Commission has warned that it could take over the supervision of benchmarks such as Libor. (Reporting by Foo Yun Chee; Writing by John O'Donnell; Editing by Sebastian Moffett and Catherine Evans)

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