“The interest rate rigging scandal that has engulfed Barclays was the result of a coordinated attempt at collusion by traders working for a coterie of leading banks over at least five years, according to a series of lawsuits and legal rulings filed in courts in Asia and North America.
The lawsuits allege the fraud was extensive, spanning at least three continents and involving trades worth tens of billions of pounds. The allegations raise further serious questions about the banks’ ability to police themselves and the role of senior management in monitoring the activities of their employees.
In a 28-page statement of facts relating to last week’s revelation that Barclays had been fined a total of £290m, the US Department of Justice discloses how a network of traders working on both sides of the Atlantic conspired to influence both the Libor and Euribor interest rates – the rates at which banks lend to each other. It was, in effect, a worldwide conspiracy against the free functioning of the market.
The size of the fines was significant and the opprobrium heaped on Barclays unremitting. “This is the most damaging scam I can recall,” said Andrew Tyrie, chair of parliament’s Treasury select committee. “It appears that many banks were involved and Barclays were the first to own up.”
Indeed, as politicians bay for his blood this weekend, the one source of comfort for Bob Diamond, the embattled Barclays chief executive, is that his bank appears to have been merely one of several involved in the scandal”.