Breaking News: Lloyds Banking Group hit for $105 million by CFTC as result of manipulation investigation

The U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) today issued an Order against Lloyds Banking Group plc and Lloyds Bank plc, formerly known as Lloyds TSB Bank plc (Lloyds TSB), bringing and settling charges for acts of false reporting and attempted manipulation of the London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR) for Sterling, U.S. Dollar, and Yen committed by employees of Lloyds TSB and HBOS plc (HBOS), which was acquired by Lloyds Banking Group in January 2009.

As a result, the entities concerned have agreed to pay a $105 million settlement as well as promising to make changes in the systems and controls employed.

The Order finds that, in a few instances, Lloyds TSB was successful in its manipulation of Sterling LIBOR and Yen LIBOR. The CFTC also brought and settled charges that Lloyds TSB, at times, aided and abetted the attempts of derivatives traders at Rabobank to manipulate Yen LIBOR.

The Order requires Lloyds Banking Group and Lloyds Bank to pay a $105 million civil monetary penalty, cease and desist from their violations of the Commodity Exchange Act, and to adhere to specific undertakings to ensure the integrity of LIBOR submissions in the future.

“By today’s action, Lloyds is being held accountable for serious misconduct,” said Aitan Goelman, CFTC Director of Enforcement. “The CFTC remains committed to taking all actions necessary to ensure the integrity of the markets we oversee.”

The unlawful conduct of Lloyds Banking Group and Lloyds Bank undermined the integrity of LIBOR, a critical global interest rate benchmark that is the basis of trillions of dollars of financial instruments. The CFTC Order finds that Lloyds Banking Group and Lloyds Bank, through Lloyds TSB and HBOS, attempted to manipulate LIBOR, at times successfully, to benefit cash and derivatives trading positions. The Order also finds that HBOS altered and lowered its Sterling and U.S. Dollar LIBOR submissions to protect its reputation at the time HBOS was being acquired by Lloyds Banking Group. (Excerpts of submitter communications follow this release.)

In a related action, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) entered into a deferred prosecution agreement with Lloyds Banking Group, deferring criminal wire fraud charges in exchange for Lloyds Banking Group continuing to cooperate and agreeing to an $86 million penalty. In addition, the United Kingdom’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) issued a Final Notice regarding its enforcement action against Lloyds Bank and Bank of Scotland plc (a subsidiary of HBOS) and imposed collectively on both firms a penalty of £105 million (approximately $179 million).

Highlights of the CFTC’s Order

• Before the acquisition of HBOS by Lloyds Banking Group in January 2009, the Sterling and U.S. Dollar LIBOR submitters at each bank individually altered LIBOR submissions on occasion to benefit the submitters’ and traders’ cash and derivatives trading positions. Upon the consolidation of the two companies, the submitters, who were located in separate offices, coordinated with one another to adjust LIBOR submissions to benefit their respective trading positions.

• From at least mid-2006 to October 2008, the Lloyds TSB Yen LIBOR submitter colluded with the Yen LIBOR Submitter at Coöperatieve Centrale Raiffeisen-Boerenleenbank B.A. (Rabobank) to adjust their respective Yen LIBOR submissions to benefit the trading positions of Lloyds TSB and Rabobank.

• During the global financial crisis in the last quarter of 2008, HBOS, through the acts of its submitters and a manager, improperly altered and lowered HBOS’s Sterling and U.S. Dollar LIBOR submissions to create a market perception that HBOS was relatively financially healthy and not a desperate borrower of cash. Specifically, the manager who supervised the HBOS Sterling and U.S. Dollar LIBOR submitters directed the submitters to make LIBOR submissions at the rate of the expected published LIBOR so that the bank did not stand out as a material outlier from the rest of the submitting banks. The submitters followed these instructions, making submissions through the end of the year that did not reflect their honest assessment of HBOS’s cost of borrowing unsecured interbank funds, and, accordingly, were not consistent with the BBA LIBOR definition.

• In 2006, Lloyds TSB and HBOS submitters on certain occasions increased their bids for Sterling in the cash market in an attempt to manipulate the published Sterling LIBOR fixing higher, thereby benefitting specific trading positions that were tied to Sterling LIBOR.

The Order also recognizes the cooperation of Lloyds Banking Group and Lloyds Bank with the Division of Enforcement in its investigation.

The CFTC acknowledges the valuable assistance of the DOJ, the Washington Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the FCA.

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