Bankers signal end to setting Libor

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 27 September, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 27 September, 2012, 3:25am


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The British Bankers' Association (BBA) has signalled willingness to give up oversight of the London interbank offered rate following claims that traders manipulated the benchmark rate.

Financial Services Authority managing director Martin Wheatley is reviewing whether to bring oversight of the benchmark under the control of regulators after Barclays, Britain's second-biggest lender, paid a record £290 million (HK$3.64 billion) fine in June for manipulating Libor. Regulators worldwide are investigating at least a dozen banks over allegations they also tried to rig the rate.

The London-based lobby group said yesterday that it would support Wheatley's recommendations.

The BBA's role as guardian of Libor, used to set rates for at least US$300 trillion of securities, has been under pressure since the Bank for International Settlements first raised concerns in 2008 that the benchmark was being manipulated.

The BBA's response was branded inadequate by the Bank of England, while United States Treasury secretary Timothy Geithner has said private, unregulated bodies such as the BBA should not oversee rates such as Libor.

After regulators began to probe Libor again last year, the BBA started another internal review of the benchmark. Its council has agreed to give up responsibility for overseeing the rate, industry sources say.

Separately, the watchdog for the US financial crisis bailout programme said the Treasury Department and Federal Reserve should stop using Libor for transactions tied to the troubled-asset relief programme.