* Two former senior UBS traders criminally charged in U.S.
* UBS fined $1.5 billion - second-largest fine ever levied
on a bank
* Penalty will widen UBS Q4 net loss
* Misconduct involving around 45 traders and managers
By Katharina Bart and Tom Miles and Aruna Viswanatha
ZURICH/NEW YORK Dec 19 U.S. prosecutors charged
two former UBS traders on Wednesday with taking part
in a multi-year scheme to manipulate Libor and other benchmark
interest rates, making them the first individuals to be
criminally accused in the international scandal.
Earlier on Wednesday, the Swiss bank admitted to fraud and
bribery in connection with efforts to rig the interest rates and
agreed to pay $1.5 billion in fines to regulators in the United
States, UK and Switzerland.
The charges against the two traders, Tom Hayes and Roger
Darin, resulted from a broad investigation into the activities
of more than a dozen banks in the setting of prices for Libor
and related rates.
In settling with U.S., UK and Swiss authorities, UBS not
only paid one of the largest fines ever imposed on a bank, its
Japanese subsidiary pleaded guilty to one U.S. criminal count of
fraud relating to manipulation of benchmark rates, including the
The Japanese subsidiary is where authorities allege much of
the manipulation of interest rates occurred, as employees of the
bank looked to profit on derivatives trades linked to the rates.
UBS is the second large international bank to reach a
settlement with U.S. and UK authorities, and other settlements
are expected to follow in the next few months. In June Barclays
Plc agreed to pay $453 million in fines to settle
allegations its employees attempted to manipulate Libor rates.
The investigation and it findings - that attempts to
manipulate Libor were fairly widespread in the banking industry
- have cast doubts on the reliability of Libor as a benchmark
for setting interest rates. The probe has also raised questions
about why bank regulators were slow to uncover the
manipulation, which Reuters previously reported dated back to at
least the late 1990s.
"The bank's conduct was simply astonishing," Lanny Breuer,
who heads the U.S. Justice Department's criminal division, said
in announcing the settlement. "Make no mistake - for UBS
traders, the manipulation of Libor was about getting rich."
The Justice Department charged Hayes and Darin with
conspiracy, according to a criminal complaint unsealed in U.S.
district court in Manhattan on Wednesday. Hayes was also charged
with wire fraud and an antitrust violation.
U.S. and UK investigators portrayed Hayes as a ringleader of
sorts for UBS' manipulation of rates.
The two men are both believed to be in Europe, according to
a U.S. official. Last week, British police arrested Hayes and
two other men in connection with the Libor probe. The two others
were Terry Farr and James Gilmour, both of whom worked at
interdealer broker RP Martin.
The $1.5 billion UBS penalty is the second largest ever
imposed on a bank, exceeded only by the $1.9 billion that HSBC
agreed to pay to settle U.S. charges in connection with
the laundering of drug cartel money.
"We deeply regret this inappropriate and unethical behavior.
No amount of profit is more important than the reputation of
this firm," said UBS Chief Executive Sergio Ermotti.
The criminal complaint against Hayes and Darin also detailed
how some former UBS employees are cooperating in the probe, in
exchange for a promise that they won't be prosecuted.
The cooperation agreements forged in the UBS case could
prove useful to U.S. and UK authorities as they move against
other individuals and other big banks.
U.S. prosecutors, for instance, are continuing to
investigate the activities of a number of former Barclays
derivatives traders based in New York who were dismissed from
the bank following an internal investigation into Libor
manipulation. So far, none of those former Barclays employees in
the United States have been charged with wrongdoing.
Libor and related benchmarks are used to set interest rates
for trillions of dollars worth of loans around the world,
ranging from home loans to credit cards to complex derivatives.
Authorities said traders could benefit on their derivatives
positions by nudging the prices for Libor up just small amounts,
as over time the payoffs added up. Already a number of civil
lawsuits have been filed in the U.S. by institutional investors
claiming they were harmed on trades because of the interest rate
'NORMAL BUSINESS PRACTICE'
In legal filings, Britain's Financial Services Authority
(FSA) said UBS staff made "corrupt" payments to reward brokers
for helping to manipulate rates - expanding the scandal to
It said attempts to manipulate Libor and Euribor, its
European equivalent, were so widespread that every submission
UBS made over a six-year period from 2005 to 2010 was suspect.
At least 45 people at UBS were involved in the rigging,
which was discussed in internal chat forums and group emails but
never detected by compliance staff, despite five audits.
The FSA said a wide pool of people within UBS considered the
manipulation to be a "normal business practice."
In addition to traders trying to move the Libor rate up or
down to make money for themselves, senior managers at the Swiss
bank directed dealers to keep Libor submissions low during the
financial crisis to make the bank look stronger.
Documents filed by the FSA did not reveal the names of
individual participants, but a source familiar with the matter
identified Hayes as the FSA's "Trader A," who the regulator said
"embarked on a coordinated campaign" to influence the yen Libor
In 2006 Hayes told a junior submitter at UBS that he
"generally coordinate " with Darin and "skew the libors a
In early 2007, Darin trained another junior submitter and
told him the primary consideration for UBS's yen Libor
submissions was the requests from Hayes and other UBS traders
The extent of the wrongdoing was highlighted in a series of
emails released by the FSA. The exchanges may indicate how
traders and brokers conspired to rig the rate while adopting
nicknames such as "Captain Caos," (sic) and calling each other
"superman," "hero" or "the three muscateers (sic)."
In one email, Trader A (Hayes) wrote to a broker, urging him
to keep the six-month yen Libor rate unchanged on the day.
Traders paid brokers as much as 15,000 pounds ($24,000) a
quarter for their help in rigging the rates.
It is the first time that brokers have been accused of
taking bribes to aid the manipulation. ICAP, the world's
largest interdealer broker, and rival RP Martin have suspended
employees in connection with the probe.
Until the rate-rigging scandal broke, Libor had been ignored
by regulators and left to the banks to police. From next year,
Britain's FSA will oversee it as part of a major overhaul.
The steep fine for UBS comes even as the bank has cooperated
with law-enforcement agencies. The bank said it received
conditional immunity from some regulators.
The investigation into UBS's trading shows that the
manipulation of the benchmark rates and illicit trading took
place over a much longer time period than previously thought
with the improper requests extending into June 2010, according
to the UBS settlement with the Justice Department.
UBS will pay $1.2 billion to the Justice Department and the
U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission, 160 million pounds to
the FSA, and 59 million Swiss francs from its estimated profit
to Swiss regulator Finma.
The UK penalty is the largest in the history of the FSA and
more than double the 59 million pounds paid by Barclays.
UBS said the fines would widen its fourth-quarter net loss
but that it would not need to raise new capital.
UBS shares fell 0.3 percent in trading on Wednesday after
earlier hitting a 17-month high.
The reputational impact of the controversy may only emerge
"The only thing shareholders can do is keep a very close eye
on the money flows on the wealth management side," said Neil
Wilkinson, portfolio manager at Royal London Asset Management.