Ex-Rabobank trader pleads guilty to Libor fixing fraud

AFP
A picture shows the headquarters of Rabobank in Utrecht, Netherlands on January 27, 2014
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A picture shows the headquarters of Rabobank in Utrecht, Netherlands on January 27, 2014 (AFP Photo/Lex van Lieshout)

Washington (AFP) - A British former trader at Dutch bank Rabobank pleaded guilty in the United States Monday to conspiring to manipulate the key Libor interest rate for the yen.

The US Department of Justice said that Paul Robson, who was Rabobank's main submittor of the benchmark yen London InterBank Offered Rate (Libor) in London, admitted in a New York federal court that he had manipulated the rate in a conspiracy of "massive" scope.

"Paul Robson is the second employee at Rabobank, one of the world's largest banks, to plead guilty to participating in a global fraud scheme," said Assistant Attorney General Caldwell.

"The scope of the fraud was massive, but the scheme was simple. By illegally influencing the Libor rates, Robson and his co-conspirators rigged the markets to ensure that their trades made money."

He pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire and bank fraud.

In June a Japanese former derivatives trader at Rabobank, Takayuki Yagami, pleaded guilty to one US charge of conspiracy to commit wire and bank fraud in the case.

Robson is scheduled for sentencing on June 9, 2017.

The Libor is an interbank average rate that is used to peg millions of interest rate-sensitive contracts and loans around the world.

Investigators in Japan, Britain, the United States and elsewhere have been probing the manipulation of the rate by traders to benefit their own accounts and add to their banks' profits.

Rabobank itself paid $325 million to US authorities last year to resolve accusations against it in the Libor scandal.

In July, British bank Lloyds Banking Group admitted wrongdoing in connection with the conspiracy, and agreed to pay an $86 million penalty.

In March, the US Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation sued Rabobank, HSBC, Citigroup, Deutsche Bank and 11 other global banking heavyweights for manipulation of Libor.

"Robson's conviction demonstrates the Department of Justice's continued resolve to hold individuals and institutions accountable for their involvement in fraud in the financial markets," Caldwell said.

Robson is scheduled for sentencing on June 9, 2017, the Justice Department said.

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