Royal Bank of Scotland

RBS faces £500m fine over Libor charges

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 16 January, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 16 January, 2013, 3:41am

Royal Bank of Scotland may pay up to £500 million (HK$6.24 billion) in fines next week to settle allegations that traders tried to rig interest rates, two people with knowledge of the matter said.

Investment banking chief John Hourican and Peter Nielsen, the head of markets, might also be asked to leave because they had responsibility for the parts of the company where the alleged wrongdoing occurred, even though they might not have had direct knowledge of the behaviour, said the two sources.

The fine would be the second-largest levied by regulators in their investigation into allegations that traders at the world's biggest lenders manipulated submissions used to set the London interbank offered rate.

UBS, Switzerland's biggest lender, was fined US$1.5 billion last month for rate-rigging, exceeding the £290 million Barclays paid in June.

The rate-rigging allegations are the biggest blow to chief executive Stephen Hester's attempt to overhaul the lender after it took £45.5 billion from taxpayers in the largest bank bailout in history in 2008.

The size of the fine and the date of the settlement were not yet fixed and the final details were still to be agreed, the people said.

RBS traders and their managers routinely sought to influence the firm's Libor submissions between 2007 and 2010 to profit from bets on derivatives, according to transcripts of internal conversations. Traders also communicated with counterparts at other firms to discuss where rates should be set, the sources said.

RBS, which started an internal probe into Libor-rigging in 2010, dismissed four bankers and suspended at least three others, including Jezri Mohideen, the head of rates trading for Europe and the Asia-Pacific region, the most senior employee to be disciplined so far.

Mohideen said in a statement that he never sought "to exert pressure on anyone to submit inaccurate rates".