ICAP Brokers Face Felony Charges for Alleged Long-Running Manipulation of LIBOR Interest Rates

Two former derivatives brokers and a former cash broker employed by London-based brokerage firm ICAP were charged as part of the ongoing criminal investigation into the manipulation of the London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR), the Justice Department announced today.

Darrell Read, who resides in New Zealand, and Daniel Wilkinson and Colin Goodman, both of England, were charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and two counts of wire fraud in a criminal complaint unsealed in Manhattan federal court earlier today.  They each face a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison for each count upon conviction.

“By allegedly participating in a scheme to manipulate benchmark interest rates for financial gain, these defendants undermined the integrity of the global markets,” said Attorney General Eric Holder. “They were supposed to be honest brokers, but instead, they put their own financial interests ahead of that larger responsibility.  And as a result, transactions and financial products around the world were compromised, because they were tied to a rate that was distorted due to the brokers’ dishonesty.  These charges underscore the Justice Department’s determination to hold accountable all those whose conduct threatens the integrity of our financial markets.”

“These three men are accused of repeatedly and deliberately spreading false information to banks and investors around the world in order to fraudulently move the market and help their client fleece his counterparties,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Mythili Raman of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division.  “Our criminal investigation of the manipulation of LIBOR by some of the largest banks in the world has led us from New York to London, to Tokyo, and other financial hubs around the globe.  These important charges are just the latest law-enforcement action in the Criminal Division and Antitrust Division’s global LIBOR investigation, and reflect the Department’s continued dedication to detecting, and prosecuting, financial fraudsters who affect U.S. markets, whether they work at a bank, or a brokerage, and whether they carry out their fraud from a desk in the United States, or abroad.”

“The complaint unsealed today charges Colin Goodman, Daniel Wilkinson and Darrell Read for conspiring to manipulate benchmark interest rates that determined the profitability of their client’s trades,” said Scott D. Hammond, Deputy Assistant Attorney General for the Antitrust Division’s criminal enforcement program.  “In exchange for bigger bonus checks, the three defendants undermined financial markets around the world by compromising the integrity of globally used interest rate benchmarks.  The Department continues to demonstrate its commitment to protecting the interest of American citizens in free and fair financial markets.”

“Corporate and securities fraud involving the manipulation of these rates causes a worldwide impact on trading positions and erodes the integrity of the market and confidence in Wall Street,” said Assistant Director in Charge Valerie Parlave of the FBI’s Washington Field Office.  “Unraveling such complex financial schemes is difficult and time consuming.  Today’s charges are the result of the hard work of the FBI special agents and forensic accountants who dedicated significant time and resources to investigating this case.”

According to the criminal complaint, 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 is published by the British Bankers’ Association (BBA), a trade association based in London.  At the time relevant to the criminal complaint, LIBOR was calculated for 10 currencies at 15 borrowing periods, known as maturities, ranging from overnight to one year.  The published LIBOR “fix” for a given currency at a specific maturity is the result of a calculation based upon submissions from a panel of banks for that currency (the contributor panel) selected by the BBA.

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 estimated at approximately $450 trillion.

According to allegations in the criminal complaint filed in this case, between July 2006 and September 2010, Wilkinson was a desk director employed in the London office of ICAP, where he supervised a group of derivatives brokers – including Read – specializing in Yen-based financial products.  Generally, the desk’s clients were derivatives traders at large financial institutions, and the transactions brokered by Wilkinson, Read and others on the desk essentially consisted of bets between traders on the direction in which Yen LIBOR would move.  Between July 2006 and September 2009, the desk’s largest client was a senior trader at UBS (UBS Trader) in Tokyo, to whom Read spoke almost daily.  Because of the large size of the client’s trading positions, even slight moves of a fraction of a percent in Yen LIBOR could generate large profits.  For example, UBS Trader once told Read that a 0.01 percent – or one basis point – movement in the final Yen LIBOR fixing on a specific date could result in $3 million profit for his trading positions.  A significant part of both Read’s and Wilkinson’s compensation was tied to the brokerage fees generated by UBS Trader and paid to ICAP.

Goodman was a cash broker at ICAP’s London office during the relevant time period.  In addition to brokering cash transactions, Goodman distributed a daily email to individuals outside of ICAP, including derivatives traders at several large banks as well as those responsible for providing the BBA with LIBOR submissions at certain banks.  Goodman’s email contained what was termed his “SUGGESTED LIBORS,” purported predictions of where Yen LIBOR ultimately would fix each day across eight specified borrowing periods.  Read and Wilkinson, along with Goodman himself, often referred to Goodman as “lord libor.”

The complaint alleges that Read, Wilkinson and Goodman, together with UBS Trader, executed a sustained and systematic scheme to move Yen LIBOR in a direction favorable to UBS Trader’s trading positions.

According to the criminal complaint, the primary strategy employed by Read, Wilkinson and Goodman to execute the scheme was to use Goodman’s “SUGGESTED LIBORS” email to disseminate misinformation to Yen LIBOR panel banks in hopes that the banks would rely on the misinformation when making their own respective Yen LIBOR submissions to the BBA for inclusion in the published fix.  Rather than providing good faith predictions as to where Yen LIBOR would fix, Goodman instead often used his daily email to set forth predictions which benefitted UBS Trader’s trading positions.

Beginning in or about June 2007, Goodman was paid a bonus through the desk Wilkinson supervised, allegedly intended, at least in part, to reward Goodman for his role in their effort to influence and manipulate the published Yen LIBOR fix.

As a second strategy, Read and Wilkinson allegedly further agreed to contact interest rate derivatives traders and submitters employed at Yen LIBOR panel banks in an effort to cause them to make false and misleading submissions to the BBA at UBS Trader’s behest.

As alleged in the charging document, Read, Wilkinson, Goodman, UBS Trader, and other co-conspirators often executed their scheme through electronic chats and email exchanges.  For example, on June 28, 2007, in an email message, Read told Wilkinson: “DAN THIS IS GETTING SERIOUS [UBS TRADER] IS NOT HAPPY WITH THE WAY THINGS ARE PROGRESSING . . . CAN YOU PLEASE GET HOLD OF COLIN AND GET HIM TO SEND OUT 6 MOS LIBOR AT 0.865 AND TO GET HIS BANKS SETTING IT HIGH. THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT BECAUSE [UBS TRADER] IS QUESTIONING MY (AND OUR) WORTH.”

The complaint alleges that the defendants were aware of the effects that Goodman’s false and fraudulent “SUGGESTED LIBORS” had on submissions by Yen LIBOR panel banks.  For example, on Nov. 20, 2008, Read asked UBS Trader, “you have a really big fix tonight I believe? if Colin sends out 6m at a more realistic level than 1.10 [%] i reckon [the two panel banks] will parrot him, it might mean 6m coming down a bit.” On the following day, Nov. 21, 2008, Goodman moved his suggestion for 6-month Yen LIBOR down by nine basis points.  The two other banks mirrored Goodman’s suggestion, moving their 6-month Yen LIBOR submissions down by nine basis points.

According to allegations in the complaint, Read counseled UBS Trader how to most effectively manipulate Yen LIBOR.  For example, UBS Trader told Read in a July 22, 2009, electronic chat that “11th aug is the big date…i still have lots of 6m fixings till the 10th.”   Read responded to UBS Trader, “if you drop [UBS’s] 6m dramatically on the 11th mate, it will look v fishy… .  I’d be v careful how you play it, there might be cause for a drop as you cross into a new month but a couple of weeks in might get people questioning you.”  UBS Trader replied, “don’t worry will stagger the drops…ie 5bp then 5bp,” and Read told UBS Trader, “ok mate, don’t want you getting into [expletive].”  UBS Trader again assured Read that UBS and two additional panel banks would stagger their drops in coordination, and Read concluded, “great the plan is hatched and sounds sensible.”

A criminal complaint is a formal accusation of criminal conduct, not evidence.  A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until convicted.

The investigation is being conducted by special agents, forensic accountants, and intelligence analysts of the FBI’s Washington Field Office.  The prosecution is being handled by Deputy Chief William Stellmach and Trial Attorney Sandra L. Moser of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and Trial Attorneys Eric Schleef and Kristina Srica of the Antitrust Division.  Trial Attorneys Alexander Berlin and Thomas B.W. Hall, Law Clerk Andrew Tyler, and Paralegal Specialist Kevin Sitarski of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section, along with Assistant Chief Elizabeth Prewitt and Trial Attorney Richard Powers of the Antitrust Division, and former Trial Attorney Luke Marsh have also provided valuable assistance.  The Criminal Division’s Office of International Affairs has provided assistance in this matter as well.

The broader investigation relating to LIBOR and other benchmark rates has required, and has greatly benefited from, a diligent and wide-ranging cooperative effort among various enforcement agencies both in the United States and abroad.  The Justice Department acknowledges and expresses its deep appreciation for this assistance.  In particular, 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 investigation.  The Securities and Exchange Commission has also provided valuable assistance for which the Department is grateful.  The Department also expresses its appreciation to the United Kingdom’s Serious Fraud Office for its assistance and ongoing cooperation.  Various agencies and enforcement authorities from other nations are also participating in different aspects of the broader investigation, and the Department is grateful for their cooperation and assistance as well.

Finally, the Department acknowledges ICAP’s continuing cooperation in the Department’s ongoing investigation.

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.

UBS Securities Japan Co. Ltd Sentenced for Long-running Manipulation of Libor

UBS Securities Japan Co. Ltd. (UBS Securities Japan), an investment bank, financial advisory securities firm and wholly-owned subsidiary of UBS AG, was sentenced today for its role in manipulating the London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR), a leading benchmark used in financial products and transactions around the world, the Justice Department announced.

UBS Securities Japan was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Robert N. Chatigny in the District of Connecticut.  UBS Securities Japan pleaded guilty on Dec. 19, 2012, to one count of engaging in a scheme to defraud counterparties to interest rate derivative trades by secretly manipulating LIBOR benchmark interest rates.  UBS Securities Japan signed a plea agreement with the government in which it admitted its criminal conduct and agreed to pay a $100 million fine, which the court accepted in imposing sentence.  In addition, UBS AG, the Zurich-based parent company of UBS Securities Japan, entered into a non-prosecution agreement (NPA) with the government requiring UBS AG to pay an additional $400 million penalty, to admit and accept responsibility for its misconduct as set forth in an extensive statement of facts and to continue cooperating with the Justice Department in its ongoing investigation.  The NPA reflects UBS AG’s substantial cooperation in discovering and disclosing LIBOR misconduct within the financial institution and recognizes the significant remedial measures undertaken by new management to enhance internal controls.

Together with approximately $1 billion in regulatory penalties and disgorgement – $700 million as a result of a Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) action; $259.2 million as a result of a U.K. Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) action; and $64.3 million as a result of a Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority (FINMA) action – the Justice Department’s criminal penalties bring the total amount of the resolution to more than $1.5 billion.

“This action, and the resulting sentence, prove that no individual or firm is above the law – no matter what,” said Attorney General Eric Holder.  “The Department of Justice will continue to stand vigilant against corporations or individuals who threaten the integrity of our financial markets, undermine the stability of our economy, or jeopardize the well-being of our citizens.  And, when supported by the facts and the law, we will never hesitate to use every tool and authority available to us to hold accountable those who illegally take advantage of others for their own financial gain.”

“Through its guilty plea and sentence, UBS has been held to account for deliberately manipulating LIBOR, one of the cornerstone interest rates in our global financial system,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Mythili Raman of the Criminal Division.  “The $1.5 billion global resolution against UBS – of which this guilty plea and sentence are a critical element – is just one of several actions we have taken against financial firms throughout the world that sought to illegally influence LIBOR.  As we continue our active and ongoing investigation of the manipulation of LIBOR, our prosecutors and agents will continue to tenaciously follow the evidence wherever it leads.  Neither UBS, nor the individual UBS defendants we have charged in connection with this sophisticated scheme, nor any other bank or individual, is above the law.”

According to documents filed in these cases, 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 estimated at approximately $450 trillion.

LIBOR, published by the British Bankers’ Association (BBA), a trade association based in London, is calculated for 10 currencies at 15 borrowing periods, known as maturities, ranging from overnight to one year.  The LIBOR for a given currency at a specific maturity is the result of a calculation based upon submissions from a panel of banks.

Beginning in September 2006, UBS Securities Japan and a senior trader employed in the Tokyo office of UBS Securities Japan orchestrated a sustained, wide-ranging and systematic scheme to move Yen LIBOR in a direction favorable to the trader’s trading positions, defrauding UBS’s counterparties and harming others with financial products referencing Yen LIBOR who were unaware of the manipulation.  Between November 2006 and August 2009, the senior trader or a colleague of the senior trader endeavored to manipulate Yen LIBOR on at least 335 of the 738 trading days in that period, and during some periods on almost a daily basis.  Because of the large size of the senior trader’s positions, even slight moves of a fraction of a percent in Yen LIBOR could generate large profits.  For example, the senior trader once estimated that a 0.01 percent movement in the final Yen LIBOR fixing on a specific date could result in a $2 million profit for UBS.

According to the charging documents, UBS Securities Japan and the senior trader employed three strategies to execute the scheme: causing UBS to make false and misleading Yen LIBOR submissions to the BBA; causing cash brokerage firms, which purported to provide market information regarding LIBOR to panel banks, to disseminate false and misleading information about short-term interest rates for Yen, which those banks could and did rely upon in formulating their own LIBOR submissions to the BBA; and communicating with interest rate derivatives traders employed at three other Yen LIBOR panel banks in an effort to cause them to make false and misleading Yen LIBOR submissions to the BBA.

In entering into the NPA with UBS AG, the Justice Department considered information from UBS and from regulatory agencies in Switzerland and Japan demonstrating that in the last two years UBS has made important and positive changes in its management, compliance and training to ensure adherence to the law.  The Department received favorable reports from the FINMA and the Japan Financial Services Authority (JFSA) describing, respectively, progress that UBS has made in its approach to compliance and enforcement and UBS Securities Japan’s effective implementation of the remedial measures the JFSA imposed based on findings relating to the attempted manipulation of Yen benchmarks.

The investigation was conducted by the FBI’s Washington Field Office.  The prosecution is being handled by Deputy Chiefs Daniel Braun and William Stellmach and Trial Attorneys Thomas B.W. Hall and Sandra L. Moser, along with former Trial Attorney Luke Marsh, of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section.  Assistant U.S. Attorneys Eric Glover and Liam Brennan of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Connecticut have provided valuable assistance.  The Criminal Division’s Office of International Affairs also provided assistance in this matter.

The investigation leading to these cases has required, and has greatly benefited from, a diligent and wide-ranging cooperative effort among various enforcement agencies both in the United States and abroad.  The Justice Department acknowledges and expresses its deep appreciation for this assistance.  In particular, the CFTC’s Division of Enforcement referred this matter to the Department and, along with the FCA, has played a major role in the investigation.  The SEC has also played a significant role in the LIBOR series of investigations and, among other efforts, has made an invaluable contribution to the investigation relating to UBS.  The Department of Justice also wishes to acknowledge and thank FINMA, the Japanese Ministry of Justice, and the JFSA.  Various agencies and enforcement authorities from other nations also have participated in different aspects of the broader investigation relating to LIBOR and other benchmark rates, and the Department is grateful for their cooperation and assistance.

North Carolina Commodities Firm Owner Sentenced to 36 Months in Prison for Multimillion-dollar Fraud

The principal and co-owner of North Carolina-based Integra Capital Management LLC, was sentenced today to serve 36 months in prison for his role in a scheme to defraud commodities trading investors of more than $3.2 million, announced Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney of the Western District of North Carolina Anne M. Tompkins.
Nicholas Cox, 35, of Lexington, N.C., was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Max O. Cogburn Jr., in the Western District of North Carolina. In addition to his prison term, Cox was sentenced to serve three years of supervised release and ordered to pay $1,981,477 in restitution.
On Dec. 22, 2012, Cox pleaded guilty in the Western District of North Carolina to one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud, five counts of mail fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering.
According to court documents, between September 2006 and January 2009, Cox and his co-conspirator, Rodney Whitney, 50, of Archdale, N.C., the co-owner of Integra, engaged in a scheme to defraud investors in commodity trading pools operated by the firm. Integra was established purportedly for the purpose of pooling investors’ funds in commodity pools, and investing in commodity futures and foreign currency exchange trading. According to court documents, Cox and Whitney obtained and misappropriated more than $3.2 million in investor funds and fabricated account statements and tax forms to conceal their fraud.
According to court documents, Cox and Whitney falsely represented, among other things, that Integra’s managers had more than 30 years of combined market experience; that Integra paid dividends of two to five percent of the investor’s initial investment, which was derived from Integra’s trading profits; and investors could remove their principal investments within five days upon giving notice to Integra. According to court documents, Cox and Whitney used the money invested by later investors to pay the monthly investment returns they had promised to earlier investors, to purchase real estate, to fund other business ventures and to purchase automobiles and other personal goods and services.
On March 21, 2011, Whitney pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering. He was sentenced on Jan. 7, 2013, to 60 months in prison for his role in the scheme.
The case was prosecuted by Trial Attorney Luke Marsh of the Criminal Division’ s Fraud Section and Benjamin Bain-Creed and Kenny Smith of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of North Carolina. The case was investigated by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.
This prosecution was done in coordination with the President’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force. The task force was established 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 nearly 10,000 financial fraud cases against nearly 15,000 defendants including more than 2,900 mortgage fraud defendants. For more information on the task force, please visit www.StopFraud.gov .

North Carolina Commodities Firm Owner Sentenced to 36 Months in Prison for Multimillion-dollar Fraud

The principal and co-owner of North Carolina-based Integra Capital Management LLC, was sentenced today to serve 36 months in prison for his role in a scheme to defraud commodities trading investors of more than $3.2 million, announced Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney of the Western District of North Carolina Anne M. Tompkins.

 Nicholas Cox, 35, of Lexington, N.C., was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Max O. Cogburn Jr., in the Western District of North Carolina. In addition to his prison term, Cox was sentenced to serve three years of supervised release and ordered to pay $1,981,477 in restitution.

On Dec. 22, 2012, Cox pleaded guilty in the Western District of North Carolina to one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud, five counts of mail fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering.

According to court documents, between September 2006 and January 2009, Cox and his co-conspirator, Rodney Whitney, 50, of Archdale, N.C., the co-owner of Integra, engaged in a scheme to defraud investors in commodity trading pools operated by the firm.  Integra was established purportedly for the purpose of pooling investors’ funds in commodity pools, and investing in commodity futures and foreign currency exchange trading.  According to court documents, Cox and Whitney obtained and misappropriated more than $3.2 million in investor funds and fabricated account statements and tax forms to conceal their fraud.

According to court documents, Cox and Whitney falsely represented, among other things, that Integra’s managers had more than 30 years of combined market experience; that Integra paid dividends of two to five percent of the investor’s initial investment, which was derived from Integra’s trading profits; and investors could remove their principal investments within five days upon giving notice to Integra.  According to court documents, Cox and Whitney used the money invested by later investors to pay the monthly investment returns they had promised to earlier investors, to purchase real estate, to fund other business ventures and to purchase automobiles and other personal goods and services.

On March 21, 2011, Whitney pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering.  He was sentenced on Jan. 7, 2013, to 60 months in prison for his role in the scheme.

The case was prosecuted by Trial Attorney Luke Marsh of the Criminal Division’ s Fraud Section and Benjamin Bain-Creed and Kenny Smith of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of North Carolina. The case was investigated by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.

 

This prosecution was done in coordination with the President’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force.  The task force was established 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 nearly 10,000 financial fraud cases against nearly 15,000 defendants including more than 2,900 mortgage fraud defendants. For more information on the task force, please visit www.StopFraud.gov .