Former Supervisory Contracting Officer Arrested in Navy Bribery Scandal

A former senior federal contracting officer was arrested this morning for conspiracy to commit bribery in connection with his alleged role in a scheme to steer contracts and benefits to Glenn Defense Marine Asia (GDMA), a defense contracting firm headquartered in Singapore.

Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Laura E. Duffy of the Southern District of California, Director Andrew L. Traver of the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) and Deputy Inspector General of Investigations James B. Burch of the Department of Defense (DCIS) made the announcement.

“Today’s arrest in this ongoing investigation demonstrates our continued resolve to root out all of the corrupt officials involved in this bribery scheme,” said Assistant Attorney General Caldwell.  “As alleged, Paul Simpkins misused his position as a contracting officer at the U.S. Navy to obtain bribes of cash, air travel, hotel rooms, and prostitutes, and his actions tarnish the reputation earned by the vast majority of U.S. Navy officers and enlisted and civilian personnel.”

“With the arrest of Paul Simpkins, who was recently among the Defense Department’s high ranking civilians we have uncovered yet another tentacle of this pervasive bribery scheme,” said U.S. Attorney Duffy.  “The more we learn about the extent of the greed and corruption, the more determined we are to eviscerate it.”

“As we’ve mentioned previously, the GDMA investigation is far from over,” said Director Traver.  “NCIS will follow the evidence wherever it leads, to bring to justice those who were involved in perpetrating this massive fraud on the Department of the Navy and the American taxpayer.  Active leads remain and NCIS will stay on the case until our work is done.”

“As the filing of today’s Criminal Complaint and subsequent arrest of Paul Simpkins shows, the Defense Criminal Investigative Service and its law enforcement partners will continue to identify and investigate those individuals who seek to defraud the U.S. taxpayer,” said Deputy Inspector General of Investigations Burch.  “Any individual, regardless of position, who allowed Glenn Defense Marine Asia Ltd. to prosper at the expense of the American taxpayer, will be brought to justice.”

Paul Simpkins, 60, of Haymarket, Virginia, is the latest individual to be arrested in connection with a corruption probe involving the U.S. Navy, GDMA, and its owner, Leonard Glenn Francis.  At this morning’s hearing, United States Magistrate Judge Jones of the Eastern District of Virginia ordered Simpkins to be detained pending a bond hearing set for Feb. 4, 2015.  To date, seven individuals, including Francis, and GDMA have entered guilty pleas as part of the investigation.

According to a criminal complaint unsealed today, Simpkins held several manager-level contracting positions throughout the federal government, including Supervisory Contract Special at the U.S. Navy Regional Contracting Center in Singapore from April 2005 through June 2007, and manager in the Department of Defense’s Office of Small Business Programs from December 2007 to August 2012.  The complaint alleges that between May 2006 and September 2012, Simpkins accepted several hundred thousand dollars in cash and wire transfers, travel and entertainment expenses, hotel rooms and the services of prostitutes.  In return, Simpkins allegedly helped steer lucrative U.S. Navy contracts to Francis and GDMA, advocated for and advanced the interests of GDMA in contract disputes, and assisted in preventing GDMA’s competitors from receiving U.S. Navy business.

The complaint specifically alleges that, beginning in early 2006, Simpkins and Francis held a series of meetings at a hotel in Singapore in which Francis agreed to provide Simpkins with things of value in return for help in steering lucrative ship husbanding contracts to GDMA.  Specifically, the complaint alleges that Francis paid Simpkins by hand-delivering over $150,000 in cash and by making several wire transfers to a bank account held in the name of Simpkins’s wife at the time.  To conceal the true nature of the wire transfers, Simpkins allegedly used an email account belonging to his mistress to advise Francis of the routing and account information of the bank account belonging to his wife.

In return for the things of value, Simpkins allegedly used his influence within the U.S. Navy to benefit GDMA, including by helping GDMA to secure lucrative ship husbanding contracts to service U.S. Navy vessels in Thailand and the Philippines.  In addition, Simpkins allegedly interceded on GDMA’s behalf in contract disputes with the U.S. Navy.  The complaint specifically alleges that in 2006, Simpkins’s subordinate recommended that GDMA’s husbanding contract in Thailand not be extended due to “many exceedingly high cost” items.  Simpkins allegedly overruled his subordinate and extended GDMA’s contract.

In another example, Simpkins allegedly instructed U.S. Navy officials in Hong Kong to discontinue the use of meters that monitored the volume of liquid waste that GDMA removed from U.S. Navy ships under its husbanding contracts.  The use of these meters would have ensured proper accounting of the actual amount of waste removed to ensure that no overbilling occurred.  Simpkins also allegedly instructed a U.S. Navy official not to review invoices that GDMA submitted in connection to a recent port call in Hong Kong after Francis complained that U.S. Navy personnel were asking questions.

The charges contained in a complaint are merely accusations, and a defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

The ongoing investigation is being conducted by NCIS and DCIS.The case is being prosecuted by Director of Procurement Fraud Catherine Votaw and Senior Trial Attorney Brian R. Young of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Mark W. Pletcher and Robert S. Huie of the Southern District of California.

Those with information relating to fraud, corruption or waste in government contracting should contact the NCIS anonymous tip line at www.ncis.navy.mil or the DOD Hotline at www.dodig.mil/hotline, or call (800) 424-9098.

U.S. Navy Commander Pleads Guilty in International Bribery Scandal

Second U.S. Navy Officer Indicted on Related Bribery Charges

A commander in the U.S. Navy pleaded guilty to federal bribery charges today, admitting that he provided a government contractor with classified ship schedules and other internal U.S. Navy information in exchange for cash, travel and entertainment expenses, as well as the services of prostitutes.  A second U.S. Navy officer was also indicted today on related bribery charges by a federal grand jury in the Southern District of California.

Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Laura E. Duffy of the Southern District of California, Director Andrew L. Traver of the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) and Deputy Inspector General of Investigations James B. Burch of the Department of Defense, Defense Criminal Investigative Service (DCIS) made the announcement.

“Commander Sanchez sold out his command and country for cash bribes, luxury hotel rooms, and the services of prostitutes,” said Assistant Attorney General Caldwell.  “After today’s guilty plea, instead of free stays at the Shangri-La hotel, Sanchez is facing many nights in federal prison.  The Department of Justice’s Criminal Division is committed to prosecuting those who abuse positions of public trust for personal enrichment at the expense of national security and the American taxpayers.”

“During the course of the investigation into this criminal enterprise, investigators have compiled voluminous evidence identifying multiple persons of interest, generating numerous leads, and establishing and corroborating connections,” said Director Traver.  “NCIS and our law enforcement partners are committed to seeing this massive fraud and bribery investigation through to its conclusion, so that those responsible are held accountable.”

“This outcome yet again sends the message that corruption will be vigorously investigated and prosecuted,” said Deputy Inspector General of Investigations Burch.  “This is an unfortunate example of dishonorable Naval officers who recklessly risked the safety of our troops by trading classified information for cash, extravagant gifts and prostitutes.  Cases such as these are not motivated by need or other difficult personal circumstances; they are the product of simple greed.  This investigation should serve as a warning that those who compromise the integrity of the United States will face their day of reckoning.  DCIS and our law enforcement partners will pursue these crimes relentlessly.”

Jose Luis Sanchez, 42, an active duty U.S. Navy Officer stationed in San Diego, California, is one of seven defendants charged – and the fifth to plead guilty – in the corruption probe involving Glenn Defense Marine Asia (GDMA), a defense contractor based in Singapore that serviced U.S. Navy ships and submarines throughout the Pacific.  Sanchez pleaded guilty to bribery and bribery conspiracy before U.S. Magistrate Judge David H. Bartick of the Southern District of California.  A sentencing hearing was scheduled for March 27, 2015, before U.S. District Judge Janis L. Sammartino.

According to his plea agreement, from April 2008 to April 2013, Sanchez held various logistical positions with the U.S. Navy’s Seventh Fleet in Asia.  Sanchez admitted that, beginning in September 2009, he entered into a bribery scheme with Leonard Glenn Francis, the CEO of GDMA, in which Sanchez provided classified U.S. Navy ship schedules and other sensitive U.S. Navy information to Francis and used his position and influence within the U.S. Navy to benefit GDMA.  In return, Francis gave him things of value such as cash, travel and entertainment expenses, and the services of prostitutes.  Sanchez admitted that this bribery scheme continued until September 2013.  Francis was charged in a complaint unsealed on Nov. 6, 2013, with conspiring to commit bribery; that charge remains pending.

In his plea agreement, Sanchez admitted to seven specific instances in which he provided Francis with classified U.S. Navy ship and submarine schedules.  He also admitted using his position and influence with the U.S. Navy to benefit GDMA and Francis on various occasions.  Further, Sanchez admitted that he tipped Francis off about investigations into GDMA overbillings and briefed Francis on internal U.S. Navy deliberations.

Sanchez further admitted that, in exchange for this information, Francis provided him with cash, entertainment and stays at high-end hotels.  For example, in May 2012, Francis paid for Sanchez to stay five nights at the Shangri-La, a luxury hotel in Singapore, and, two months later, Francis paid for Sanchez’s travel from Asia to the United States, at a cost of over $7,500.  Additionally, Francis arranged and paid for the services of prostitutes for Sanchez while Sanchez was in Singapore and elsewhere in Asia.

In addition to Sanchez, two other U.S. Navy officials – former NCIS Special Agent John Beliveau and Petty Officer First Class Dan Layug – have pleaded guilty in connection with this investigation.Two former GDMA executives, Alex Wisidagama and Edmond Aruffo, have likewise pleaded guilty.

Also today, an indictment was returned against U.S. Navy Captain-Select Michael Vannak Khem Misiewicz, 47, of San Diego, California, charging him with a bribery conspiracy and seven counts of bribery.  According to allegations in the indictment, from at least as early as July 2011 until  September 2013, Misiewicz provided classified U.S. Navy ship schedules and other sensitive U.S. Navy information to Francis and used his position and influence within the U.S. Navy to benefit GDMA.  In return Francis allegedly gave him things of value such as cash, travel and entertainment expenses, and the services of prostitutes.

The charges contained in a criminal complaint and indictment are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

The ongoing investigation is being conducted by NCIS, DCIS and the Defense Contract Audit Agency. The case is being prosecuted by Director of Procurement Fraud Catherine Votaw and Trial Attorney Brian R. Young of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Mark W. Pletcher and Robert S. Huie of the Southern District of California.

Two Former Rabobank Traders Indicted for Alleged Manipulation of U.S. Dollar, Yen Libor Interest Rates

Two former Coöperatieve Centrale Raiffeisen-Boerenleenbank B.A. (Rabobank) derivative traders – including the bank’s former Global Head of Liquidity & Finance in London – have been charged in a superseding indictment for their alleged roles in a scheme to manipulate the U.S. Dollar (USD) and Yen London InterBank Offered Rate (LIBOR), a benchmark interest rate to which trillions of dollars in interest rate contracts were tied, the Justice Department announced today.  Six former Rabobank employees have now been charged in the Rabobank LIBOR investigation.

Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, Deputy Assistant Attorney General Brent Snyder of the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division and Assistant Director in Charge Andrew G. McCabe of the FBI’s Washington Field Office made the announcement.

Earlier today, a federal grand jury in the Southern District of New York returned a superseding indictment charging Anthony Allen, 43, of Hertsfordshire, England; and Anthony Conti, 45, of Essex, England, with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and bank fraud and with substantive counts of wire fraud for their participation in a scheme to manipulate the USD and Yen LIBOR rate in a manner that benefitted their own or Rabobank’s  financial positions in derivatives that were linked to those benchmarks.

The indictment also charges Tetsuya Motomura, 42, of Tokyo, Japan, and Paul Thompson, 48, of Dalkeith, Australia, who were charged in a prior indictment with Paul Robson, a former Rabobank LIBOR submitter.  In addition to adding as defendants Allen and Conti, the superseding indictment alleges a broader conspiracy to manipulate both the USD LIBOR and the Yen LIBOR.

Robson and Takayuki Yagami, a former Rabobank derivatives trader, each pleaded guilty earlier this year to one count of conspiracy in connection with their roles in the scheme.

“Today, we have charged two more members of the financial industry with influencing Dollar LIBOR and Yen LIBOR to gain an illegal advantage in the market, unfairly benefitting their own trading positions in financial derivatives,” said Assistant Attorney General Caldwell.  “LIBOR is a key benchmark interest rate that is relied upon to be free of bias and self-dealing, but the conduct of these traders was as galling as it was greedy.  Today’s charges are just the latest installment in the Justice Department’s industry-wide investigation of financial institutions and individuals who manipulated global financial rates.”

“With today’s charges against Messrs. Allen and Conti, we continue to reinforce our message to the financial community that we will not allow the individuals who perpetrate these crimes to hide behind corporate walls,” said Deputy Assistant Attorney General Snyder.  “This superseding indictment, with its charges against Mr. Allen, makes an especially strong statement to managers in financial institutions who devise schemes to undermine fair and open markets but leave the implementation – and often the blame – with their subordinates.”

“With today’s indictments the FBI’s investigation into Rabobank’s manipulation of LIBOR benchmark rates expands in scope to include the U.S. Dollar,” said Assistant Director in Charge McCabe. “I would like to thank the special agents, forensic accountants, and analysts, as well as the prosecutors who have worked to identify and stop those who hide behind complex corporate and securities fraud schemes.”

According to the superseding indictment, at the time relevant to the charges, LIBOR was an average interest rate, calculated based on submissions from leading banks around the world, reflecting the rates those banks believed they would be charged if borrowing from other banks.   LIBOR was published by the British Bankers’ Association (BBA), a trade association based in London.  LIBOR was calculated for 10 currencies at 15 borrowing periods, known as maturities, ranging from overnight to one year.  The published LIBOR “fix” for U.S. Dollar and Yen currency for a specific maturity was the result of a calculation based upon submissions from a panel of 16 banks, including Rabobank.

LIBOR serves as the primary benchmark for short-term interest rates globally and is used as a reference rate for many interest rate contracts, mortgages, credit cards, student loans and other consumer lending products.

Rabobank entered into a deferred prosecution agreement with the Department of Justice on Oct. 29, 2013, and agreed to pay a $325 million penalty to resolve violations arising from Rabobank’s LIBOR submissions.

According to allegations in the superseding indictment, Allen, who was Rabobank’s Global Head of Liquidity & Finance and the manager of the company’s money market desk in London, put in place a system in which Rabobank employees who traded in derivative products linked to USD and Yen LIBOR regularly communicated their trading positions to Rabobank’s LIBOR submitters, who submitted Rabobank’s LIBOR contributions to the BBA.  Motomura, Thompson, Yagami and other traders entered into derivative contracts containing USD or Yen LIBOR as a price component and they asked Conti, Robson, Allen and others to submit LIBOR contributions consistent with the traders’ or the bank’s financial interests, to benefit the traders’ or the banks’ trading positions.  Conti, who was based in London and Utrecht, Netherlands, served as Rabobank’s primary USD LIBOR submitter and at times acted as Rabobank’s back-up Yen LIBOR submitter.  Robson, who was based in London, served as Rabobank’s primary submitter of Yen LIBOR.  Allen, in addition to supervising the desk in London and money market trading worldwide, occasionally acted as Rabobank’s backup USD and Yen LIBOR submitter.  Allen also served on a BBA Steering Committee that provided the BBA with advice on the calculation of LIBOR as well as recommendations concerning which financial institutions should sit on the LIBOR contributor panel.

The charges in the superseding indictment are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

The investigation is being conducted by special agents, forensic accountants and intelligence analysts in the FBI’s Washington Field Office.  The prosecution is being handled by Senior Litigation Counsel Carol L. Sipperly and Trial Attorney Brian R. Young of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and Trial Attorney Michael T. Koenig of the Antitrust Division.  The Criminal Division’s Office of International Affairs has provided assistance in this matter.

The Justice Department expresses its appreciation for the assistance provided by various enforcement agencies in the United States and abroad.  The Commodity Futures Trading Commission’s Division of Enforcement referred this matter to the department and, along with the U.K. Financial Conduct Authority, has played a major role in the LIBOR investigation.  The Securities and Exchange Commission also has played a significant role in the LIBOR series of investigations, and the department expresses its appreciation to the United Kingdom’s Serious Fraud Office for its assistance and ongoing cooperation.   The department has worked closely with the Dutch Public Prosecution Service and the Dutch Central Bank in the investigation of Rabobank.  Various agencies and enforcement authorities from other nations are also participating in different aspects of the broader investigation relating to LIBOR and other benchmark rates, and the department is grateful for their cooperation and assistance.

This prosecution is part of efforts underway by President Barack Obama’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force.  President Obama established the interagency Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force to wage an aggressive, coordinated and proactive effort to investigate and prosecute financial crimes.  The task force includes representatives from a broad range of federal agencies, regulatory authorities, inspectors general and state and local law enforcement who, working together, bring to bear a powerful array of criminal and civil enforcement resources.  The task force is working to improve efforts across the federal executive branch, and with state and local partners, to investigate and prosecute significant financial crimes, ensure just and effective punishment for those who perpetrate financial crimes, combat discrimination in the lending and financial markets and recover proceeds for victims of financial crimes.  For more information about the task force visit: www.stopfraud.com [external link].

Former Rabobank LIBOR Submitter Pleads Guilty for Scheme to Manipulate Yen Libor

A former Coöperatieve Centrale Raiffeisen-Boerenleenbank B.A. (Rabobank) Japanese Yen London InterBank Offered Rate (LIBOR) submitter pleaded guilty today for his role in a conspiracy to commit wire and bank fraud by manipulating Rabobank’s Yen LIBOR submissions to benefit trading positions.
Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, Deputy Assistant Attorney General Brent Snyder of the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division and Acting Assistant Director in Charge Timothy A. Gallagher of the FBI’s Washington Field Office made the announcement.
Paul Robson, a citizen of the United Kingdom, appeared before United States District Judge Jed S. Rakoff in the Southern District of New York and pleaded guilty to count one of a 15-count indictment returned by a federal grand jury in the Southern District on April 28, 2014.    Sentencing is scheduled for June 9, 2017.
“ 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 coconspirators rigged the markets to ensure that their trades made money.  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.”
“Today’s guilty plea demonstrates our continuing resolve to prosecute those who fraudulently manipulated the LIBOR rate for their own personal benefit and, in doing so, undermined free and fair markets,” said Deputy Assistant Attorney General Snyder.
“Fraudulently manipulating the LIBOR has far reaching effects on international financial markets and such criminal activity will not be tolerated,” said Acting Assistant Director in Charge Gallagher.    “The Washington Field Office has committed significant time and resources including the expertise of Special Agents, forensic accountants and analysts to investigate this case along with our Department of Justice colleagues.    While the crimes committed are complex, their expertise demonstrates our ability to bring justice to those that choose to commit these crimes.”
Robson, along with former Rabobank Yen LIBOR derivatives traders Paul Thompson, of Australia, and Tetsuya Motomura, of Japan, was charged with conspiracy to commit wire and bank fraud as well as substantive counts of wire fraud.    The indictment also alleges that the conspiracy involved numerous additional, unnamed individuals and entities.    Among those individuals and entities are:

Takayuki Yagami (described in the indictment as Trader-R), a Japanese national and former Rabobank trader who pleaded guilty on June 10, 2014, in the Southern District of New York to one count of conspiracy to commit wire and bank fraud for his involvement in the conspiracy alleged in the indictment; and

Lloyds Banking Group plc (LBG), a U.K.-based bank that, as part of a deferred prosecution agreement filed in the United States District Court for the District of Connecticut on July 28, 2014, admitted wrongdoing in connection with the alleged conspiracy’s overt acts, and agreed to pay an $86 million penalty.

According to court documents, LIBOR is an average interest rate, calculated based on submissions from leading banks around the world, reflecting the rates those banks believe they would be charged if borrowing from other banks.    LIBOR serves as the primary benchmark for short-term interest rates globally and is used as a reference rate for many interest rate contracts, mortgages, credit cards, student loans and other consumer lending products.    The Bank of International Settlements estimated that as of the second half of 2009, outstanding interest rate contracts were valued at approximately $450 trillion.
At the time relevant to the charges, LIBOR was published by the British Bankers’ Association (BBA), a trade association based in London.    LIBOR was calculated for 10 currencies at 15 borrowing periods, known as maturities, ranging from overnight to one year.    The published LIBOR “fix” for Yen LIBOR at a specific maturity is the result of a calculation based upon submissions from a panel of 16 banks, including Rabobank.
Rabobank entered into a deferred prosecution agreement with the Department of Justice on Oct. 29, 2013, and agreed to pay a $325 million penalty to resolve violations arising from Rabobank’s LIBOR submissions.
According to court documents, Robson worked as a senior trader at Rabobank’s Money Markets and Short Term Forwards desk in London and also served as Rabobank’s primary submitter of Yen LIBOR to the BBA; Thompson was Rabobank’s head of Money Market and Derivatives Trading Northeast Asia and worked in Singapore; Motomura was a senior trader at Rabobank’s Tokyo desk who supervised money market and derivative traders; and Yagami worked as a senior trader at Rabobank’s Money Market/FX Forwards desks in Tokyo and elsewhere in Asia.
Robson’s main role in the conspiracy was to submit Yen LIBOR rates at the requests of traders, including Thompson, Motomura and Yagami, who entered into derivatives contracts containing Yen LIBOR as a price component .    T he profit and loss that flowed from those contracts was directly affected by the relevant Yen LIBOR on certain dates.    If the relevant Yen LIBOR moved in the direction favorable to the defendants’ positions, Rabobank and the defendants benefitted at the expense of the counterparties.    When LIBOR moved in the opposite direction, the defendants and Rabobank stood to lose money to their counterparties.
As alleged in court filings, from about May 2006 to at least January 2011, the four defendants, a Yen LIBOR submitter at LBG, and others agreed to make false and fraudulent Yen LIBOR submissions for the benefit of selected trading positions.    According to the allegations, sometimes Robson submitted rates at a specific level requested by a co-defendant or other traders, and at other times Robson made a higher or lower Yen LIBOR submission consistent with the direction requested by a co-defendant or other traders.
For example, according to court filings, on Sept. 21, 2007, Yagami asked Robson by email, “where do you think today’s libors are?    If you can I would like 1mth higher today.” Robson responded, “bookies reckon .85,” to which Yagami replied, “I have some fixings in 1mth so would appreciate if you can put it higher mate.” Robson answered, “no prob mate let me know your level.” After Yagami asked for “0.90% for 1mth,” Robson confirmed, “sure no prob[ ] I’ll probably get a few phone calls but no worries mate… there’s bigger crooks in the market than us guys!”
Robson admitted that he accommodated the requests of his co-defendants and other traders.    For example, on Sept. 21, 2007, after Robson allegedly received a request from Yagami for a high one-month Yen LIBOR, Rabobank submitted a one-month Yen LIBOR rate of 0.90, which was seven basis points higher than the previous day and five basis points above where Robson said that “bookies” predicted it, and which moved Rabobank’s submission from the middle to the highest of the panel.
According to court documents, the defendants were also aware that they were making false or fraudulent Yen LIBOR submissions.    For example, on May 10, 2006, Robson admitted in an email to Yagami that “it must be pretty embarrasing to set such a low libor.   I was very embarrased to set my 6 mth – but wanted to help thomo [Thompson].   Tomorrow it will be more like 33 from me.” At times, Robson referred to the submissions that he submitted on behalf of his co-defendants as “ridiculously high” and “obscenely high,” and acknowledged that his submissions would be so out of line with the other Yen LIBOR panel banks that he might receive a phone call about them from the BBA or Thomson Reuters.
On numerous occasions, Robson also passed along such requests to the LBG submitter, who altered LBG’s Yen LIBOR submission accordingly if doing so did not adversely affect selected trading positions at LBG.    Likewise, the LBG setter sent requests to Robson and he generally altered Rabobank’s Yen LIBOR to satisfy the requests.    For example, on July 28, 2006, Robson wrote to the LBG submitter: “morning skipper…..will be setting an obscenely high 1m again today…poss 38 just fyi.” The LBG submitter responded: “(K)…oh dear..my poor customers….hehehe!! manual input libors again today then!!!!” Both banks’ submissions on July 28 moved up one basis point, from 0.37 to 0.38.    As the LBG submitter explained, according to court documents filed in connection with Rabobank’s deferred prosecution agreement, to other LBG submitters, “We usually try and help each other out…but only if it suits.”
The charges in the indictment are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
The investigation is being conducted by special agents, forensic accountants, and intelligence analysts in the FBI’s Washington Field Office.    The prosecution is being handled by Senior Litigation Counsel Carol L. Sipperly and Trial Attorney Brian R. Young of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section, and Trial Attorney Michael T. Koenig of the Antitrust Division.    The Criminal Division’s Office of International Affairs has provided assistance in this matter.
The Justice Department expresses its appreciation for the assistance provided by various enforcement agencies in the United States and abroad.    The Commodity Futures Trading Commission’s Division of Enforcement referred this matter to the department and, along with the U.K. Financial Conduct Authority, has played a major role in the LIBOR investigation.    The Securities and Exchange Commission also has played a significant role in the LIBOR series of investigations, and the department expresses its appreciation to the United Kingdom’s Serious Fraud Office for its assistance and ongoing cooperation.      The department has worked closely with the Dutch Public Prosecution Service and the Dutch Central Bank in the investigation of Rabobank.    Various agencies and enforcement authorities from other nations are also participating in different aspects of the broader investigation relating to LIBOR and other benchmark rates, and the department is grateful for their cooperation and assistance.
This prosecution is part of efforts underway by President Barack Obama’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force.  President Obama established the interagency Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force to wage an aggressive, coordinated and proactive effort to investigate and prosecute financial crimes.  The task force includes representatives from a broad range of federal agencies, regulatory authorities, inspectors general and state and local law enforcement who, working together, bring to bear a powerful array of criminal and civil enforcement resources.  The task force is working to improve efforts across the federal executive branch, and with state and local partners, to investigate and prosecute significant financial crimes, ensure just and effective punishment for those who perpetrate financial crimes, combat discrimination in the lending and financial markets and recover proceeds for victims of financial crimes.   For more information about the task force visit: www.stopfraud.com.

 

Former Rabobank Trader Pleads Guilty for Scheme to Manipulate Yen Libor

A former Coöperatieve Centrale Raiffeisen-Boerenleenbank B.A. (Rabobank) Japanese Yen derivatives trader pleaded guilty today for his role in a conspiracy to commit wire and bank fraud by manipulating Rabobank’s Yen London InterBank Offered Rate (LIBOR) submissions to benefit his trading positions.
Attorney General Eric H. Holder, Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, Deputy Assistant Attorney General Brent Snyder of the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division and Assistant Director in Charge Valerie Parlave of the FBI’s Washington Field Office made the announcement.
Today, a criminal information was filed in the Southern District of New York charging Takayuki Yagami, a Japanese national, with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and bank fraud.   Yagami pleaded guilty to the information before United States District Judge Jed S. Rakoff in the Southern District of New York.
“With this guilty plea, we take another significant step to hold accountable those who fraudulently manipulated the world’s cornerstone benchmark interest rate for financial gain,” said Attorney General Eric Holder.  “This conduct distorted transactions and financial products around the world.  Manipulating LIBOR effectively rigs the global financial system, compromising the fairness of world markets.  This plea demonstrates that the Justice Department will never waver, and we will never rest, in our determination to ensure the integrity of the marketplace and protect it from fraud.
“Today, a former Rabobank trader has pleaded guilty to participating in a scheme to manipulate the global benchmark interest rate LIBOR to benefit Rabobank’s trading positions,” said Assistant Attorney General Caldwell.    “This was the ultimate inside job.    As alleged, traders illegally influenced the very interest rate on which their trades were based, using fraud to gain an unfair advantage.    Takayuki Yagami is the ninth person charged by the Justice Department in connection with the industry-wide LIBOR investigation, and we are determined to pursue other individuals and institutions who engaged in this crime.”
“Today’s guilty plea is a significant step forward in the LIBOR investigation and demonstrates the Department’s firm commitment to individual accountability,” said Deputy Assistant Attorney General Snyder.  “We will continue to pursue aggressively other individuals involved in this or other illegal schemes that undermine free and fair financial markets.”
“Manipulating financial trading markets to create an unfair advantage is against the law,” said Assistant Director in Charge Parlave.  “Today’s guilty plea further underscores the FBI’s ability to investigate complex international financial crimes and bring the perpetrators to justice.  The Washington Field Office has committed significant time and resources including the expertise of Special Agents, forensic accountants and analysts to investigate this case along with our Department of Justice colleagues.  Their efforts send a clear message to anyone contemplating financial crimes: think twice or you will face the consequences.”
According to court documents, LIBOR is an average interest rate, calculated based on submissions from leading banks around the world, reflecting the rates those banks believe they would be charged if borrowing from other banks.    LIBOR serves as the primary benchmark for short-term interest rates globally and is used as a reference rate for many interest rate contracts, mortgages, credit cards, student loans and other consumer lending products.    The Bank of International Settlements estimated that as of the second half of 2009, outstanding interest rate contracts were valued at approximately $450 trillion.
At the time relevant to the charges, LIBOR was published by the British Bankers’ Association (BBA), a trade association based in London.    LIBOR was calculated for 10 currencies at 15 borrowing periods, known as maturities, ranging from overnight to one year.    The published LIBOR “fix” for Yen LIBOR at a specific maturity is the result of a calculation based upon submissions from a panel of 16 banks, including Rabobank.
Yagami admitted to conspiring with Paul Robson, of the United Kingdom, Paul Thompson, of Australia, and Tetsuya Motomura, of Japan.  Robson, Thompson and Motomura were charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and bank fraud as well as substantive counts of wire fraud in a fifteen-count indictment returned by a federal grand jury in the Southern District of New York on April 28, 2014.    All four are former employees of Rabobank.
Rabobank entered into a deferred prosecution agreement with the Department of Justice on Oct. 29, 2013 and agreed to pay a $325 million penalty to resolve violations arising from Rabobank’s LIBOR submissions.
According to allegations in the information and indictment, the four defendants traded in derivative products that referenced Yen LIBOR.    Robson worked as a senior trader at Rabobank’s Money Markets and Short Term Forwards desk in London; Thompson was Rabobank’s head of Money Market and Derivatives Trading Northeast Asia and worked in Singapore; Motomura was a senior trader at Rabobank’s Tokyo desk who supervised money market and derivative traders; and Yagami worked as a senior trader at Rabobank’s Money Market/FX Forwards desks in Tokyo and elsewhere in Asia.    In addition to trading derivative products that referenced Yen LIBOR, Robson also served as Rabobank’s primary submitter of Yen LIBOR to the BBA.
Robson, Thompson, Motomura and Yagami each entered into derivatives contracts containing Yen LIBOR as a price component .    The profit and loss that flowed from those contracts was directly affected by the relevant Yen LIBOR on certain dates.    If the relevant Yen LIBOR moved in the direction favorable to the defendants’ positions, Rabobank and the defendants benefitted at the expense of the counterparties.    When LIBOR moved in the opposite direction, the defendants and Rabobank stood to lose money to their counterparties.
As alleged in court filings, from about May 2006 to at least January 2011, the four defendants and others agreed to make false and fraudulent Yen LIBOR submissions for the benefit of their trading positions.    According to the allegations, sometimes Robson submitted rates at a specific level requested by a co-defendant, including Yagami, and consistent with the co-defendant’s trading positions.    Other times, Robson made a higher or lower Yen LIBOR submission consistent with the direction requested by a co-defendant and consistent with the co-defendant’s trading positions.    On those occasions, Robson’s manipulated Yen LIBOR submissions were to the detriment of, among others, Rabobank’s counterparties to derivative contracts.    Thompson, Motomura and Yagami (described in the indictment as Trader-R) made requests of Robson for Yen LIBOR submissions through electronic chats and email exchanges.
For example, according to court filings, on Sept. 21, 2007, Yagami asked Robson by email, “wehre do you think today’s libors are?    If you can I would like 1mth higher today.” Robson responded, “bookies reckon .85,” to which Yagami replied, “I have some fixings in 1mth so would appreciate if you can put it higher mate.” Robson answered, “no prob mate let me know your level.” After Yagami asked for “0.90% for 1mth,” Robson confirmed, “sure no prob[ ] I’ll probably get a few phone calls but no worries mate… there’s bigger crooks in the market than us guys!”
The indictment alleges that Robson accommodated the requests of his co-defendants.    For example, on Sept. 21, 2007, after Robson allegedly received a request from Yagami for a high 1-month Yen LIBOR, Rabobank submitted a 1-month Yen LIBOR rate of 0.90, which was 7 basis points higher than the previous day and 5 basis points above where Robson said that “bookies” predicted it, and which moved Rabobank’s submission from the middle to the highest of the panel.
According to court documents, the defendants were also aware that they were making false or fraudulent Yen LIBOR submissions.    For example, on May 10, 2006, Robson admitted in an email to Yagami that “it must be pretty embarrasing to set such a low libor.  I was very embarrased to set my 6 mth – but wanted to help thomo [Thompson].  Tomorrow it will be more like 33 from me.” At times, Robson referred to the submissions that he submitted on behalf of his co-defendants as “ridiculously high” and “obscenely high,” and acknowledged that his submissions would be so out of line with the other Yen LIBOR panel banks that he might receive a phone call about them from the BBA or Thomson Reuters.
The charges in the indictment are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
The investigation is being conducted by special agents, forensic accountants, and intelligence analysts in the FBI’s Washington Field Office.    The prosecution is being handled by Senior Litigation Counsel Carol L. Sipperly and Trial Attorney Brian R. Young of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section, and Trial Attorney Michael T. Koenig of the Antitrust Division.    The Criminal Division’s Office of International Affairs has provided assistance in this matter.
The Justice Department expresses its appreciation for the assistance provided by various enforcement agencies in the United States and abroad.    The Commodity Futures Trading Commission’s Division of Enforcement referred this matter to the department and, along with the U.K. Financial Conduct Authority, has played a major role in the LIBOR investigation.  The Securities and Exchange Commission also has played a significant role in the LIBOR series of investigations, and the department expresses its appreciation to the United Kingdom’s Serious Fraud Office for its assistance and ongoing cooperation.     The department has worked closely with the Dutch Public Prosecution Service and the Dutch Central Bank in the investigation of Rabobank.    Various agencies and enforcement authorities from other nations are also participating in different aspects of the broader investigation relating to LIBOR and other benchmark rates, and the department is grateful for their cooperation and assistance.
This prosecution is part of efforts underway by President Barack Obama’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force.  President Obama established the interagency Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force to wage an aggressive, coordinated and proactive effort to investigate and prosecute financial crimes.  The task force includes representatives from a broad range of federal agencies, regulatory authorities, inspectors general and state and local law enforcement who, working together, bring to bear a powerful array of criminal and civil enforcement resources.  The task force is working to improve efforts across the federal executive branch, and with state and local partners, to investigate and prosecute significant financial crimes, ensure just and effective punishment for those who perpetrate financial crimes, combat discrimination in the lending and financial markets and recover proceeds for victims of financial crimes.  For more information about the task force visit: www.stopfraud.com.

 

Former Investment Banker and His Associate Sentenced for Insider Trading Scheme

A former San Francisco investment banker and his college friend were sentenced yesterday to 16 months in prison for their roles in an insider trading scheme involving two impending corporate mergers, announced Acting Assistant Attorney General Mythili Raman of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag of the Northern District of California.
Jauyo Lee, or “Jason Lee,” 29, of Palo Alto, Calif., and Victor Chen, 29, of Sunnyvale, Calif., both pleaded guilty on April 16, 2013, to one count of conspiracy to commit securities fraud and one count of securities fraud.
According to the plea agreements, Lee, who worked as an investment banker in the San Francisco office of Leerink Swann LLC, disclosed inside information to Chen, a friend from college, about two impending mergers involving Leerink clients.  Between Aug. 26, 2009, and Sept. 5, 2009, Lee disclosed inside information to Chen about the merger of Leerink’s client, Syneron Medical Ltd., and Candela Corporation, a medical device company publicly traded on the NASDAQ stock market.  Chen used the inside information to buy shares of Candela.  After the merger was announced, Candela’s stock price increased more than 40 percent and Chen sold his shares for a gain of approximately $62,589.
Between June 1 and June 13 of 2010, Lee also provided Chen with inside information about the impending merger of Somanetics Corporation and a subsidiary of Covidien plc.  Leerink was the lead financial advisor to Somanetics, which also was publicly traded on the NASDAQ.  Chen used the inside information to buy shares and options of Somanetics.  Following the merger announcement, the price of Somanetics stock increased more than 30 percent and Chen ultimately realized a profit of approximately $547,510.
Lee and Chen were charged in a criminal information on March 21, 2013.
The sentence was handed down by U.S. District Judge Richard G. Seeborg of the Northern District of California.  Judge Seeborg also sentenced Lee and Chen each to a two-year period of supervised release and ordered that restitution and forfeiture be considered at a subsequent hearing.  Chen paid $610,099 in forfeiture prior to sentencing.
This case was investigated by the FBI with substantial assistance from the Chicago Regional Office of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. It is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert S. Leach and Trial Attorney Brian R. Young of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section with the assistance of Rayneisha Booth and Mary Mallory.
This prosecution is part of efforts underway by President Obama’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force (FFETF), which was created in November 2009 to wage an aggressive, coordinated and proactive effort to investigate and prosecute financial crimes.  With more than 20 federal agencies, 94 U.S. Attorneys’ Offices and state and local partners, it’s the broadest coalition of law enforcement, investigatory and regulatory agencies ever assembled to combat fraud.  Since its formation, the task force has made great strides in facilitating increased investigation and prosecution of financial crimes; enhancing coordination and cooperation among federal, state and local authorities; addressing discrimination in the lending and financial markets and conducting outreach to the public, victims, financial institutions and other organizations.  Over the past three fiscal years, the Justice Department has filed more than 10,000 financial fraud cases against nearly 15,000 defendants including more than 2,700 mortgage fraud defendants.

Las Vegas Mortgage Agent Sentenced to 15 Months in Prison for Role in Mortgage Fraud Scheme

A Las Vegas mortgage agent was sentenced late yesterday to serve 15 months in prison for her participation in a mortgage fraud scheme that netted more than $1.2 million in fraudulent mortgage loans, Acting Assistant Attorney General Mythili Raman of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Daniel G. Bogden of the District of Nevada and Acting Special Agent in Charge William C. Woerner of the FBI’s Las Vegas Field Office announced today.

Heidi Haischer, 44, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Miranda M. Du in the District of Nevada.  In addition to her prison term, Haischer was sentenced to serve three years of supervised release.

In November 2012, after a four-day trial, a federal jury in Las Vegas found Haischer guilty of one count of wire fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud for submitting fraudulent loan documents to purchase two homes.

According to court documents and evidence presented at trial, Haischer participated in a mortgage fraud scheme while employed as a mortgage broker in Nevada.  From December 2006 to January 2007, Haischer and her co-conspirators fraudulently secured loans totaling over $1 million to obtain properties with the intent to flip and sell them for profit.  Evidence at trial showed that Haischer and her co-conspirators subsequently enriched themselves by collecting brokerage commissions generated by the sales of the properties.

The court documents and trial evidence demonstrated that Haischer submitted multiple loan applications in which she overstated her income, submitted false verification of employment and misrepresented her intent to reside in one of the properties as her primary residence.  Additionally, Haischer presented inflated bank account balances supported by forged bank statements to make it appear that she had assets she did not have, in order to help qualify for mortgage loans for which she otherwise would not have been eligible.

Co-conspirator Kelly Nunes was convicted in a related case in Las Vegas on Feb. 2, 2012, of one count of bank fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit wire and bank fraud.  On July 11, 2012, Nunes was sentenced to 51 months in prison.

This case was investigated by the FBI.  Trial Attorneys Thomas B.W. Hall and Brian R. Young of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section prosecuted the case, with assistance from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Nevada.

This case was a result of efforts by President Obama’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force (FFETF) which was created in November 2009 to wage an aggressive, coordinated and proactive effort to investigate and prosecute financial crimes. With more than 20 federal agencies, 94 U.S. attorneys’ offices and state and local partners, it’s the broadest coalition of law enforcement, investigatory and regulatory agencies ever assembled to combat fraud. Since its formation, the task force has made great strides in facilitating increased investigation and prosecution of financial crimes; enhancing coordination and cooperation among federal, state and local authorities; addressing discrimination in the lending and financial markets and conducting outreach to the public, victims, financial institutions and other organizations. Over the past three fiscal years, the Justice Department has filed more than 10,000 financial fraud cases against nearly 15,000 defendants including more than 2,700 mortgage fraud defendants. For more information on the task force, visit www.StopFraud.gov.