(MENAFN - AFP) Regulators on Wednesday fined British broker Icap 87 million (64 million euros) for its role in the Libor rate-rigging scandal, and the United States charged three ex-brokers over the affair.
Icap announced in a statement that it had settled with British and US regulators to pay fines totalling the equivalent of 54 million.
The US Department of Justice (DoJ) revealed in a simultaneous statement that it had charged former Icap brokers Darrell Read, Daniel Wilkinson and Colin Goodman, with "conspiracy to commit wire fraud and two counts of wire fraud" as part of its ongoing Libor rigging probe. It added that each count carried a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison.
Libor is a global benchmark that is calculated daily, using estimates from banks of their own interbank rates. However, the system has been found to be open to abuse, with some traders lying about borrowing costs to boost trading positions or make their bank seem more secure.
Britain's Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) said the misconduct by Icap had involved a "significant" number of brokers, including two managers, between October 2006 and November 2010.
Brokers had allegedly colluded with traders at UBS to manipulate Japanese yen Libor rates for the benefit of the traders, the FCA said.
It added that one broker received "corrupt bonus payments" at the instigation of a manager for his help in the manipulation.
London-listed Icap has now become the fourth company to be penalised for its involvement in the Libor rate-rigging scandal, following large fines for British lenders Barclays and Royal Bank of Scotland, and Swiss peer UBS.
Icap said Wednesday that it would pay 14 million (22.4 million, 16.6 million euros) to the FCA and 65 million to the US Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) "relating to the involvement of certain brokers in the attempted manipulation of yen Libor by bank traders between October 2006 and January 2011".
Icap chief executive Michael Spicer added: "We deeply regret and strongly condemn the inexcusable actions of the brokers who sought to assist certain bank traders in their efforts to manipulate yen Libor."
'Champagne and Ferrari kickbacks'
The CTFC watchdog meanwhile slammed Icap over the conduct of the broker's employees, who it said had sought kickbacks of "champagne and Ferraris" in return for a favourable Libor fixing.
"Here we are, sadly, with traders again behaving badly. Another bust, another one bites the dust," said CFTC Commissioner Bart Chilton in a statement.
"In this instance, Icap brokers attempted to falsely report Libor rates in order to advantage another trader. This was insolent conduct impacting a benchmark rate that influences almost anything consumers buy on credit."
"These benchmarks are just too important to become a playground for some big-talking bad guys.
Chilton added: "Email exchanges exhibit total disregard for proper protocols. In one case, champagne was promised for a favorable fixing. Some sought increased kickbacks or free meals -- a curry meal for currying favors.
"One even mentioned (perhaps in jest) a Ferrari as payment for the favors. 'They are making fortunes with these high fixings,' said one communication."
The Libor scandal erupted last year when British bank Barclays was fined 290 million by British and US regulators for attempted manipulation of Libor interbank rates and eurozone equivalent Euribor between 2005 and 2009.
Libor, or the London Interbank Offered Rate, is the umbrella term for benchmark rates that underpin the terms of 500 trillion of contracts from mortgages to the cost of corporate lending.
"The attempts to manipulate Libor have been a black eye for our global financial system," added Chilton in the CFTC statement.
"It's good that we have made progress at cleaning up this monstrous mess."
He added: "Let's hope other would-be crooks learn a lesson here and stay clear of future violations."
Libor scandal 'casts shadow over financial services'
NYSE Euronext, the owner of the New York Stock Exchange, will take over management of Libor early next year, after a review recommended that industry body the British Bankers' Association (BBA) should be stripped of its responsibility for setting Libor.
"The misconduct in relation to Libor has cast a shadow over the financial services industry," added Tracey McDermott, FCA director of enforcement and financial crime.
"The findings we publish today illustrate, once again, individuals within the industry acting with a cavalier disregard both for regulatory obligations and the interests of the markets."<