Timeline: Libor-fixing scandal

Looking over the City of London

Libor, the London inter-bank lending rate, is considered to be one of the most crucial interest rates in finance.

It underpins trillions of pounds worth of loans and financial contracts.

So, when Barclays was fined £290m in June last year after some of its derivatives traders were found to have attempted to rig this key rate, already weak public confidence in banks was harmed further.

The scandal led to the resignation of both Barclays chief executive Bob Diamond and chairman Marcus Agius.

Here are some of the key dates in the scandal:

2005

As early as 2005 there was evidence Barclays had tried to manipulate dollar Libor and Euribor (the eurozone's equivalent of Libor) rates at the request of its derivatives traders and other banks.

Misconduct was widespread, involving staff in New York, London and Tokyo as well as external traders.

Between January 2005 and June 2009, Barclays derivatives traders made a total of 257 requests to fix Libor and Euribor rates, according to a report by the FSA.

One Barclays trader told a trader from another bank in relation to three-month dollar Libor: "duuuude... what's up with ur guys 34.5 3m fix... tell him to get it up!".

2007

At the onset of the financial crisis in September 2007 with the collapse of Northern Rock, liquidity concerns drew public scrutiny towards Libor. Barclays manipulated Libor submissions to give a healthier picture of the bank's credit quality and its ability to raise funds. A lower submission would deflect concerns it had problems borrowing cash from the markets.

Barclays' Libor submissions were at the higher end of the range of contributing banks, and prompted media speculation about the true picture of the bank's risk and credit profile.

Crisis jargon buster
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AAA-rating
The best credit rating that can be given to a borrower's debts, indicating that the risk of borrowing defaulting is minuscule.

Senior treasury managers instructed submitters to reduce Libor to avoid negative publicity, saying Barclays should not "stick its head above the parapet", according to the FSA report.

From as early as 28 August, the New York Fed said it had received mass-distribution emails that suggested that Libor submissions were being set unrealistically low by the banks.

On 28 November, a senior submitter at Barclays wrote in an internal email that "Libors are not reflecting the true cost of money", according to the FSA.

In December, a Barclays compliance officer contacted the UK banking lobby group British Bankers' Association (BBA) and the FSA and described "problematic actions" by other banks, saying they appeared to be understating their Libor submissions, according to US regulator the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC).

On 6 December, a Barclays compliance officer contacted the FSA, according to the FSA report, to express concern about the Libor rates being submitted by other banks, but did not inform the FSA that its own submissions were incorrect, instead saying that they were "within a reasonable range".

The FSA said that the same compliance officer then told Barclays senior management that he told the FSA "we have consistently been the highest (or one of the two highest) rate provider in recent weeks, but we're justifiably reluctant to go higher given our recent media experience", and that the FSA "agreed that the approach we've been adopting seems sensible in the circumstances".

In early December, the CFTC said that the Barclays employee responsible for submitting the bank's dollar Libor rates contacted it to complain that Barclays was not setting "honest" rates.

The employee emailed his supervisor about his concerns, saying: "My worry is that we (both Barclays and the contributor banle panel) are being seen to be contributing patently false rates.

"We are therefore being dishonest by definition and are at risk of damaging our reputation in the market and with the regulators. Can we discuss urgently please?"

On 6 December a Barclays compliance officer contacted the FSA about concerns over the levels that other banks were setting their US Libor rate. This was made after a submitter flagged to compliance his concern about mis-reporting the rate. Compliance informed the FSA that "we have consistently been the highest (or one of the two highest) rate provider in recent weeks, but we're justifiably reluctant to go higher given our recent media experience".

He also reported that the FSA "agreed that the approach we've been adopting seems sensible in the circumstances, so I suggest we maintain status quo for now".

In a phone call on 17 December a Barclays employee told the New York Fed that the Libor rate was being fixed at a level that was unrealistically low.

2008

On 11 April a New York Fed official queried a Barclays employee in detail as to the extent of problems with Libor reporting. The Barclays employee explained that Barclays was underreporting its rate to avoid the stigma associated with being an outlier with respect to its Libor submissions, relative to other participating banks

On 16 April, the Wall Street Journal published a report that questioned the integrity of Libor.

Around this time, according to the CFTC, a senior Barclays treasury manager informed the BBA in a phone call that Barclays had not been reporting accurately. But he defended the bank, saying it was not the worst offender: "We're clean, but we're dirty-clean, rather than clean-clean."

Bank of England emails 2008

PDF download Paul Tucker - set 1[132KB]

PDF download Paul Tucker - set 2[216KB]

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"No one's clean-clean," the BBA representative responded.

According to the FSA, following the Wall Street Journal report, Barclays received communications from the BBA expressing concern about the accuracy of its Libor submissions. The BBA said if the media reports were true, it was unacceptable.

On 17 April, a manager made comments in a call to the FSA that Barclays had been understating its Libor submissions: "We did stick our head above the parapet last year, got it shot off, and put it back down again. So, to the extent that, um, the Libors have been understated, are we guilty of being part of the pack? You could say we are... Um, so I would, I would sort of express us maybe as not clean clean, but clean in principle."

In late April officials from the New York Federal Reserve Bank - which oversees the banks in New York - met to determine what steps might be taken to address the problems with Libor, and notified other US agencies.

On 6 May the New York Fed briefed senior officials from the US Treasury in detail, and thereafter sent a further report on problems with Libor.

The New York Fed officials also met with BBA officials to express their concerns and establish in greater depth the flaws in the Libor-setting process.

On 29 May, Barclays agreed internally to tell the media that the bank had always quoted accurate and fair Libors and had acted "in defiance of the market" rather than submitting incorrect rates, according to the FSA.

In early June, Tim Geithner, who was the head of the New York Fed at the time, sent Bank of England governor Sir Mervyn King, a list of proposals to to try to tackle Libor's credibility problem.

They included the need "to eliminate the incentive to misreport" by protecting the identity of the banks that submitted the highest and lowest rates.

Sir Mervyn and Mr Geithner, now US Treasury Secretary, had discussed the matter at a central bankers' gathering a few days earlier.

Shortly afterwards, Sir Mervyn confirmed to Mr Geithner that he had passed the New York Fed's recommendations onto the BBA soon afterwards.

US concerns about Libor

PDF download June 2008 emails to/from Bank of England about New York Fed's concerns[270MB]

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Spring: The BBA prepares a review of Libor, later described by the Bank of England's deputy governor Paul Tucker as "tremendously important because of the eroding credibility of Libor". The Bank wanted Libor to reflect actual rates, not subjective submissions. Mr Tucker rang the banks stressing the review should be carried out by senior representatives, not the junior people normally sent to sit on the BBA committee.

On 10 June, the BBA published a consultation paper seeking comments about proposals to modify Libor. "The BBA proposes to explore options for avoiding the stigma whilst maintaining transparency," it said. Barclays contributed comments but avoided mentioning its own rate submissions.

On 5 August, the BBA published a feedback statement on its consultation paper, and concluded that the existing process for submissions would be retained.

In September, following the collapse of Lehman Brothers, the Bank of England had a conversation with a senior Barclays official, in which the Bank raised questions about Barclays' liquidity position and its relatively high Libor submissions.

Bob Diamond's notes of phone conversation with Paul Tucker

Emailed to then-chief executive John Varley on 30/10/2008. Copied to Jerry del Missier.

Date: 29 October 2008

Further to our last call, Mr Tucker reiterated that he had received calls from a number of senior figures within Whitehall to question why Barclays was always toward the top end of the Libor pricing. His response was "you have to pay what you have to pay". I asked if he could relay the reality, that not all banks were providing quotes at the levels that represented real transactions, his response "oh, that would be worse".

I explained again our market rate driven policy and that it had recently meant that we appeared in the top quartile and on occasion the top decile of the pricing. Equally I noted that we continued to see others in the market posting rates at levels that were not representative of where they would actually undertake business. This latter point has on occasion pushed us higher than would otherwise appear to be the case. In fact, we are not having to "pay up" for money at all.

Mr Tucker stated the levels of calls he was receiving from Whitehall were "senior" and that while he was certain we did not need advice, that it did not always need to be the case that we appeared as high as we have recently.

On 13 October, the UK government announces plans to pump billions of pounds of taxpayers' money into three major banks, effectively part-nationalising Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), Lloyds TSB and HBOS.

A week later, on 21 and 22 October, Paul Tucker and senior government official Sir Jeremy Heywood discussed why Libor in the UK was not falling as fast as in the US, despite government action. Sir Jeremy also asked why Barclays' borrowing costs were so high. "A lot of speculation in the market over what they are up to," he says in an email.

In subsequent evidence to the Treasury Select Committee Mr Tucker later suggests there was widespread concern at this time that Barclays was "next in line" for emergency government help. He was in regular contact with Bob Diamond, emails show.

On 24 October a Barclays employee tells a New York Fed official in a telephone call that the Libor rate is "absolute rubbish".

On 29 October Paul Tucker and Bob Diamond - head of Barclays' investment bank at the time - speak on the phone. According to Mr Diamond's account of the conversation, emailed to colleagues the next day, Mr Tucker said senior Whitehall officials wanted to know why Barclays was "always at the top end of Libor pricing".

According to the Barclays chief executive, Mr Tucker said the rates "did not always need to be the case that we appeared as high as we have recently". Mr Tucker later said that gave the "wrong impression" of their conversation and said he did not encourage Barclays to manipulate its Libor submissions.

Following this discussion with the Bank of England, Barclays instructed Libor submitters to lower the rate to be "within the pack".

On 17 November, the BBA issued a draft document about how Libor rates should be set and required banks to have their rate submission procedures audited as part of compliance. The final paper would be circulated on 16 July 2009.

2009

On 2 November the BBA circulated guidelines for all contributor banks on setting Libor rates in the same manner. Barclays made no changes to its systems to take account of the BBA guidelines.

In December Barclays started to improve its systems and controls but ignored the BBA's guidelines. Until 2009 the bank did not have a formal Chinese wall between the derivatives team and the submitters.

2010

In June, Barclays circulated an email to submitters that set out "fundamental rules" that required them, for example, to report to compliance any attempts to influence Libor submissions either externally or internally. It also prohibited communication with external traders "that could be be seen as an attempt to agree on or impact Libor levels".

2011

In late 2011, Royal Bank of Scotland sacked four people for their alleged roles in the Libor-fixing scandal.

2012

Bob Diamond, Treasury Select Committee

On 27 June, Barclays admitted to misconduct. The UK's FSA imposed a £59.5m penalty. The US Department of Justice and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) imposed fines worth £102m and £128m respectively, forcing Barclays to pay a total of around £290m.

On 29 June, chief executive Bob Diamond said he would attend a Commons Treasury Select Committee and that the bank would co-operate with authorities. However, he insisted he would not resign.

The same day, Bank of England governor Sir Mervyn King called for a "cultural change", adding: "The idea that one can base the future calculation of Libor on the idea that 'my word is my Libor' is now dead." He said implementing the Vickers banking reforms was the most important first step, but ruled out a Leveson-style inquiry into the banks.

On 2 July, Barclays chairman Marcus Agius resigned and also tendered his resignation as chairman of the BBA. Mr Diamond said in a letter to staff that he would "get to the bottom" of what happened.

Prime Minister David Cameron announced a parliamentary review of the banking sector, to be headed by the chairman of the Treasury Select Committee, Andrew Tyrie. The review should ensure that the UK had the "toughest and most transparent rules of any major financial sector", Mr Cameron said.

On 3 July, Barclays chief executive Bob Diamond resigned, saying that the external pressure on the bank risked "damaging the franchise".

He was followed by Barclays chief operating officer Jerry del Missier, who resigned the same day.

On 4 July, Mr Diamond faced a three-hour grilling from MPs on the Treasury Committee over the scandal, during which he described the behaviour of those responsible as "reprehensible" and said it had made him physically ill. The Committee subsequently accused him of giving evidence that fell short of its expected standards.

On 5 July, credit rating agency Moody's lowered its rating outlook on Barclays from stable to negative.

On 6 July, the Serious Fraud Office launched a criminal investigation into Libor manipulation.

Deputy governor of the Bank of England Paul Tucker gave evidence to the Treasury on 9 July, insisting he had not leant on Barclays to lower its submissions, nor had he been asked to do so by the government.

On 16 July, Barclays chief operating officer Jerry del Missier told MPs he was instructed by Diamond to lower the bank's Libor submissions. He also told them he believed the Bank of England alone instructed Barclays to lower them.

On 17 July, US Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke told a Senate committee that the Libor system was "structurally flawed" said that he still did not have full confidence in the system.

Earlier, the governor of the Bank of England, Sir Mervyn King, told the Treasury Committee that UK authorities had been worried about senior management at Barclays, even before the recent Libor scandal broke. Sir Mervyn said Barclays had sailed "close to the wind" too often.

On 31 July, Deutsche Bank confirmed that a "limited number" of staff were involved in the Libor rate-rigging scandal. However, it said an internal inquiry had cleared senior management of taking part.

On 10 August, the FSA published its initial findings on what needs to be done to reform the Libor rate-setting system. The FSA's managing director, Martin Wheatley, said trust in Libor "needs to be repaired" and that the current system was no longer "viable".

On 16 August, it was announced that seven banks including Barclays, HSBC and RBS are to face legal questioning in the US. The other banks to receive the subpoenas from the attorney generals of New York and Connecticut were Citigroup, Deutsche Bank, JPMorgan and UBS.

On 18 August, the Treasury Committee published its report into the Libor rate-fixing scandal. The MPs blamed bank bosses for "disgraceful" behavior. They demanded changes including higher fines for firms that failed to co-operate with regulators, examination of gaps in criminal law, and a much stronger governance framework at the Bank of England. The committee also criticised the evidence of former Barclays boss Bob Diamond, saying it had been "highly selective". In response, he said he had "answered every question that was put to me truthfully, candidly and based on information available to me".

On 25 September, the British Bankers' Association (BBA), the organisation that sets the Libor rate, said it would accept losing the role. Its statement came ahead of the FSA's final report on how to reform Libor, due to be published on 28 September.

On 28 September, the FSA confirmed that the BBA would no longer administer Libor, and would be replaced by a data provider (an organisation such as Bloomberg or Reuters) or a regulated exchange. The report also said that the Libor system was broken and suggested its complete overhaul, including criminal prosecutions for those who try to manipulate it. The regulator also suggested basing Libor calculations on actual rates being used, rather than estimates currently provided by banks.

On 11 December, the UK's Serious Fraud Office said three men had been arrested in connection with its continuing investigations into Libor.

On 19 December, Swiss bank UBS is fined a total of $1.5bn (£940m) by US, UK and Swiss regulators for attempting to manipulate Libor. It agrees to pay $1.2bn in combined fines to the US Department of Justice and the Commodities Futures Trading Commission, £160m to the UK's Financial Services Authority, and 59m Swiss Francs to the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority.

2013

On 10 January, the BBC's business editor, Robert Peston, discloses that RBS is in talks with UK and US regulators over the size of fines to settle the Libor investigation. He also warns that the resignation of a senior executive was possible as part of a settlement.

A week later, on 17 January, the new chief of Barclays, Antony Jenkins, tells staff to sign up to a new code of conduct - or leave the firm - as part of an attempt to ensure that scandals such as Libor-fixing never happen again.

On 25 January, a judge refuses a request from 104 senior Barclays staff for anonymity during a court case. Guardian Care Homes had accused the bank of mis-selling it an interest rate hedging product linked to Libor.

On 31 January, Deutsche Bank tells investors that it may face lawsuits related to the manipulation of Libor, as well as other recent scandals. Therefore, the bank said, it was setting aside 1bn euros to cover potential litigation.

Amid speculation that RBS was close to a Libor settlement, on 2 February the Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne says that any fines imposed on the bank should be met by bankers themselves, not taxpayers.

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