The Swiss bank UBS will pay $1.5 billion in fines to international regulators for manipulating the LIBOR interest rate, which helps set rates on financial products across the world. UBS is the second bank, after Barclays, to pay fines for messing with LIBOR.
According to emails released by the British Financial Services Authority, UBS traders bragged over email about their work rigging the interest rate, promising to do “fu*king humongous deal[s]” with each other if the rates were rigged a certain way:
The trader, described in Financial Services Authority documents as Trader A, wrote on instant message exchanges: “3m libor is too high cause I have kept it artificially high.” This single employee appears to have made hundreds of requests to brokers to help manipulate the rate, according to the FSA. At least 45 UBS employees in total knew of, or were involved in, the rigging of the rate, the UK regulator said.
The FSA documents suggest a macho trading culture on the UBS trading floor. Trader A also said: “if you keep 6s [i.e. the six month JPY LIBOR rate] unchanged today … I will ****ing do one humongous deal with you … Like a 50,000 buck deal.”
As Reuters’ Felix Salmon put it, “The $1.5 billion that UBS is paying in fines here is enormous, but it’s not remotely enough.” The emails read much like those circulated by Goldman Sachs when it was busy ripping off customers with self-described “shi*ty deals.”