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Lloyds Nears Settlement With US, UK Regulators Over LIBOR Manipulation

Stephen Little

28 July 2014

Partly-state owned has confirmed that it is nearing settlement with regulators in the US and the UK over allegations of LIBOR fixing.

The group is expected to pay between £200 to £300 million ($339.7 million) and will be the seventh company to be fined by UK and US authorities in the LIBOR-rigging investigation.

“Lloyds Banking Group confirms that it is in late-stage settlement discussions with a number of agencies. The settlements remain to be agreed and Lloyds Banking Group expects they will include the payment of penalties.  Lloyds Banking Group will update the market on these issues as appropriate,” the group said in a statement.

The penalty for Lloyds comes two years after Barclays was fined $450 million by US and UK regulators for trying to manipulate LIBOR, which led to the resignations of Barclays chief executive Bob Diamond and chairman Marcus Agius in the UK.

Following the LIBOR scandal in 2012, a number of other banks were also fined, including UBS and Royal Bank of Scotland, for fixing the rate in order to boost the profits of traders prior to the financial crisis.

At the end of last year, the European Union also levied a record fine of €1.7 billion ($2.3 billion) on six European and US banks, including Deutsche Bank, Societe Generale, Royal Bank of Scotland, and Citigroup.

LIBOR is based on the interest rates leading banks charge when loaning money to other banks overnight, which is supposed to represent the cost of a bank's lending activities.

As the primary benchmark for short-term interest rates globally, LIBOR is used as a reference rate for many interest rate contracts, mortgages, credit cards, student loans and other consumer-lending products.

The scandal arose both during and before the financial crisis when it was discovered that banks were manipulating rates so as to profit from trades or give the impression they were more credit-worthy than they actually were.

The news comes on top of what has been a difficult period for the group.

Lloyds was bailed out by the British government in 2008 following the financial crisis to save it from collapse and has been partly-owned by the British taxpayer ever since.

Earlier this year, the bank was also fined £4.3 million by the Financial Conduct Authority for failings causing late redress payments relating to payment protection insurance.

As part of the UK government's plan to return Lloyds to full private ownership, the bank has sold a number of its non-core assets to strengthen its balance sheet.

The bank has already sold international private banking operations, for example, to Switzerland’s Union Bancaire Privée, and earlier this year announced it intended to list its retail TSB Banking Group arm.