Feds Eye Criminal Charges in Libor Scandal

Justice Department building case that could jail bankers
By Mark Russell,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 15, 2012 11:03 AM CDT
Feds Eye Criminal Charges in Libor Scandal
A view of Barclay's headquarter at London's Canary Wharf financial district, Thursday, June 28, 2012.   (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)

At long last, an investigation into a major financial scandal appears to be going criminal, as the Justice Department is building a case against several banks involved in the Libor rate-rigging scandal. Sources say Justice could file criminal charges against at least one bank by the end of the year, reports the New York Times, and more than 10 are being investigated. Even Bloomberg is calling the Libor scandal "a breathtaking portrait of avarice and deceit," describing the potential criminal charges as "a much-needed comeuppance that could help reset the industry's moral compass." “It’s hard to imagine a bigger case than Libor,” adds a government official involved.

The growing possibility of jail time for finance officials and deepening investigations by international regulators has several banks looking for their own Barclays-like deals, including at least two European institutions. Reportedly, Swiss bank UBS is next in line for regulators, and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission is looking at a civil suit against the bank; UBS already has an immunity deal with the Justice Department protecting it from criminal charges, but only if certain conditions are met. But a proper investigation is going to require full access to the banks' records, and so far British regulators have been reluctant and slow. (Perhaps jail time will reduce the number of Wall Street executives who way they need to break the law).

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