Two Former Rabobank Traders Indicted for Alleged Manipulation of U.S. Dollar, Yen LIBOR Interest Rates
WASHINGTON, DC—Two former Coöperatieve Centrale Raiffeisen-Boerenleenbank B.A. (Rabobank) derivative traders—including the bank’s former Global Head of Liquidity & Finance in London—have been charged in a superseding indictment for their alleged roles in a scheme to manipulate the U.S. Dollar (USD) and Yen London InterBank Offered Rate (LIBOR), a benchmark interest rate to which trillions of dollars in interest rate contracts were tied, the Justice Department announced today. Six former Rabobank employees have now been charged in the Rabobank LIBOR investigation.
Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, Deputy Assistant Attorney General Brent Snyder of the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division and Assistant Director in Charge Andrew G. McCabe of the FBI’s Washington Field Office made the announcement.
Earlier today, a federal grand jury in the Southern District of New York returned a superseding indictment charging Anthony Allen, 43, of Hertsfordshire, England; and Anthony Conti, 45, of Essex, England, with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and bank fraud and with substantive counts of wire fraud for their participation in a scheme to manipulate the USD and Yen LIBOR rate in a manner that benefitted their own or Rabobank’s financial positions in derivatives that were linked to those benchmarks.
The indictment also charges Tetsuya Motomura, 42, of Tokyo, Japan, and Paul Thompson, 48, of Dalkeith, Australia, who were charged in a prior indictment with Paul Robson, a former Rabobank LIBOR submitter. In addition to adding as defendants Allen and Conti, the superseding indictment alleges a broader conspiracy to manipulate both the USD LIBOR and the Yen LIBOR.
Robson and Takayuki Yagami, a former Rabobank derivatives trader, each pleaded guilty earlier this year to one count of conspiracy in connection with their roles in the scheme.
“Today, we have charged two more members of the financial industry with influencing Dollar LIBOR and Yen LIBOR to gain an illegal advantage in the market, unfairly benefitting their own trading positions in financial derivatives,” said Assistant Attorney General Caldwell. “LIBOR is a key benchmark interest rate that is relied upon to be free of bias and self-dealing, but the conduct of these traders was as galling as it was greedy. Today’s charges are just the latest installment in the Justice Department’s industry-wide investigation of financial institutions and individuals who manipulated global financial rates.”
“With today’s charges against Messrs. Allen and Conti, we continue to reinforce our message to the financial community that we will not allow the individuals who perpetrate these crimes to hide behind corporate walls,” said Deputy Assistant Attorney General Snyder. “This superseding indictment, with its charges against Mr. Allen, makes an especially strong statement to managers in financial institutions who devise schemes to undermine fair and open markets but leave the implementation—and often the blame—with their subordinates.”
“With today’s indictments the FBI’s investigation into Rabobank’s manipulation of LIBOR benchmark rates expands in scope to include the U.S. Dollar,” said Assistant Director in Charge McCabe. “I would like to thank the special agents, forensic accountants, and analysts, as well as the prosecutors who have worked to identify and stop those who hide behind complex corporate and securities fraud schemes.”
According to the superseding indictment, at the time relevant to the charges, LIBOR was an average interest rate, calculated based on submissions from leading banks around the world, reflecting the rates those banks believed they would be charged if borrowing from other banks. LIBOR was published by the British Bankers’ Association (BBA), a trade association based in London. LIBOR was calculated for 10 currencies at 15 borrowing periods, known as maturities, ranging from overnight to one year. The published LIBOR “fix” for U.S. Dollar and Yen currency for a specific maturity was the result of a calculation based upon submissions from a panel of 16 banks, including Rabobank.
LIBOR serves as the primary benchmark for short-term interest rates globally and is used as a reference rate for many interest rate contracts, mortgages, credit cards, student loans and other consumer lending products.
Rabobank entered into a deferred prosecution agreement with the Department of Justice on Oct. 29, 2013, and agreed to pay a $325 million penalty to resolve violations arising from Rabobank’s LIBOR submissions.
According to allegations in the superseding indictment, Allen, who was Rabobank’s Global Head of Liquidity & Finance and the manager of the company’s money market desk in London, put in place a system in which Rabobank employees who traded in derivative products linked to USD and Yen LIBOR regularly communicated their trading positions to Rabobank’s LIBOR submitters, who submitted Rabobank’s LIBOR contributions to the BBA. Motomura, Thompson, Yagami and other traders entered into derivative contracts containing USD or Yen LIBOR as a price component and they asked Conti, Robson, Allen and others to submit LIBOR contributions consistent with the traders’ or the bank’s financial interests, to benefit the traders’ or the banks’ trading positions. Conti, who was based in London and Utrecht, Netherlands, served as Rabobank’s primary USD LIBOR submitter and at times acted as Rabobank’s back-up Yen LIBOR submitter. Robson, who was based in London, served as Rabobank’s primary submitter of Yen LIBOR. Allen, in addition to supervising the desk in London and money market trading worldwide, occasionally acted as Rabobank’s backup USD and Yen LIBOR submitter. Allen also served on a BBA Steering Committee that provided the BBA with advice on the calculation of LIBOR as well as recommendations concerning which financial institutions should sit on the LIBOR contributor panel.
The charges in the superseding indictment are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
The investigation is being conducted by special agents, forensic accountants and intelligence analysts in the FBI’s Washington Field Office. The prosecution is being handled by Senior Litigation Counsel Carol L. Sipperly and Trial Attorney Brian R. Young of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and Trial Attorney Michael T. Koenig of the Antitrust Division. The Criminal Division’s Office of International Affairs has provided assistance in this matter.
The Justice Department expresses its appreciation for the assistance provided by various enforcement agencies in the United States and abroad. The Commodity Futures Trading Commission’s Division of Enforcement referred this matter to the department and, along with the U.K. Financial Conduct Authority, has played a major role in the LIBOR investigation. The Securities and Exchange Commission also has played a significant role in the LIBOR series of investigations, and the department expresses its appreciation to the United Kingdom’s Serious Fraud Office for its assistance and ongoing cooperation. The department has worked closely with the Dutch Public Prosecution Service and the Dutch Central Bank in the investigation of Rabobank. Various agencies and enforcement authorities from other nations are also participating in different aspects of the broader investigation relating to LIBOR and other benchmark rates, and the department is grateful for their cooperation and assistance.
This prosecution is part of efforts underway by President Barack Obama’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force. President Obama established the interagency Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force to wage an aggressive, coordinated and proactive effort to investigate and prosecute financial crimes. The task force includes representatives from a broad range of federal agencies, regulatory authorities, inspectors general and state and local law enforcement who, working together, bring to bear a powerful array of criminal and civil enforcement resources. The task force is working to improve efforts across the federal executive branch, and with state and local partners, to investigate and prosecute significant financial crimes, ensure just and effective punishment for those who perpetrate financial crimes, combat discrimination in the lending and financial markets and recover proceeds for victims of financial crimes. For more information about the task force visit: www.stopfraud.com.