October 18, 2019 / 12:31 PM / a month ago

British fraud office ends seven-year Libor rigging probe

FILE PHOTO: The Barclays logo is seen in front of displayed stock graph in this illustration taken June 21, 2017. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration

(Reuters) - Britain's Serious Fraud Office said on Friday it had closed its investigation into the manipulation of Libor interest rates and would bring no further charges. (bit.ly/2ML2KQ4)

The London interbank offered rate (Libor) rigging scandal led to billions of dollars in fines for major banks and jail sentences for traders convicted of manipulating the benchmark for profit.

The SFO began its investigation into Libor manipulation in 2012 after Barclays (BARC.L) was the first of 11 major banks to be fined hundreds of millions of dollars for rigging the rate.

It secured five convictions, of which the most high profile was former UBS (UBSG.S) and Citigroup (C.N) trader Tom Hayes, who is serving an 11-year sentence.

However eight people it charged with manipulating Libor were acquitted between January 2016 and April 2017.

The main part of the SFO’s investigation outstanding was into so-called “low-balling” where traders were alleged to have submitted artificially low estimates of the rate to give an inaccurate picture of their firm’s borrowing costs. No charges are to be brought for this.

The SFO’s investigation into the manipulation of the separate Euribor benchmark are ongoing.

Reporting by Uday Sampath in Bengaluru and Iain Withers in London; Editing by Bernard Orr and Rachel Armstrong

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