Barclays Settles LIBOR Fixing Claim, And BOY Did Its Bankers Write A Bunch Of Embarrassing Emails

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Photo: Flickr / Zack Sheppard

Today’s news on Wall Street’s more ‘questionable’ escapades comes to us from Barclays.The British bank just settled with regulators on both sides of the pond over allegations that they tried to manipulate and/or falsely report key benchmark rates — the LIBOR and the Euribor from 2005 to 2009, FT Alphaville’s Lisa Pollack reports.

They did this, says the report, to benefit their own trading positions. They even let ex-Barclays bankers at other institutions submit their chosen rates too.

As punishment, Barclays will pay a combined $360 million to the Department of Justice and the CFTC. It will also pay £59.5 million to UK regulator, the FSA.

That stings a little, but it can’t possibly sting as much as the airing of incriminating e-mails revealed in the CFTC’s release on this matter (via FT Alphaville). Basically, they just show how cheerfully Barclays employees carried out these illegal acts, and the chummy relationship they had with those who helped them. We’ve collected some of our favourites to share with you.

Here’s a super friendly, helpful e-mail from October 2006:

Senior Euro Swaps Trader: “I have a huge fixing on Monday… something like 30bn 1m fixing… and I would like it to be very very very high….. Can you do something to help? I know a big clearer will be against us … and don’t want to lose money on that one.”

Euribor Submitter forwarded the request to another Euribor submitter, advising: “We always try and do our best to help out. ….”

This November 2006 e-mail shows that there was a lot of love in the workplace, which is nice:

Barclays’ Senior Eul’O Swaps Trader then reminded Barclays’ Senior Euribor Submitter of his request from Friday: “hi [Senior Euribor Submitter]. Sorry to be a pain but just to remind you the importance of a low fixing for us today.”

Barclays’ Senior Euribor Submitter replied: “no problem, I had not forgotten. The [voice] brokers are going for 3.372, we will put in 36 for our contribution;”

Barclays’ Senior Euro Swaps Trader’s responded: “I love you.”

Our favourite things, though, are the attentive, charming responses submitters gave to traders. Especially when they used nicknames:

  • “[Senior Trader] owes me!” (February 7, 2006, Submitter’s response when swaps trader called him a “superstar” for moving Barclays’ U.S. Dollar LIBOR submission up a basis point more than the submitter wanted and for making a submission with the intent to get “kicked out”);
  • “For you … anything. I am going to go 78 and 92.5. It is difficult to go lower than that in threes. looking at where cash is trading. In fact, if you did not want a low one I would have gone 93 at least.” (March 16, 2006, Submitter’s response to swaps trader’s request for a high one-month and low three-month U.S. Dollar LIBOR);
  • “Always happy to help, leave it with me, Sir.” (March 20,2006, Submitter’s response to a request);
  • “Done … for you big boy…” (April 7, 2006, Submitter’s response to swaps trader requests for low one-month and three-month U.S. Dollar LIBOR);

That’s friendship.

You can download the CFTC release here.

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