In a charge that is likely to gain a lot of attention due to the complexities involved, two managers at French bank Société Générale were indicted for being involved in a scheme to manipulate the London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR). The rate is a key benchmark that is used in millions of transactions worldwide, affecting trillions of dollars of funds.
Those who were charged are Danielle Sindzingre, 54, and Muriel Bescond, 49. Ms. Sindzingre worked as the Global Head of Treasury while Ms. Bescond was the Head of Treasury in Paris. They are charged in a US court on 5 counts, including conspiring to transmit incorrect reports that were likely to affect LIBOR rates, and transmitting those reports.
Commenting on the indictment, Acting Assistant Attorney General Blanco said: “The allegations in today’s indictment suggest complete and total disregard for the integrity of the financial markets and for innocent consumers and everyday people whose personal finances hinge on the interest rates they pay on various loans.”
“Cases like this demonstrate the crucial role of the Department in protecting people and their hard earned money, securing our financial markets for economic growth and prosperity, and for fighting white collar crime to protect our nation from bad actors, wherever they may reside,” Blanco elaborated.
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LIBOR Manipulated via Inaccurate Reporting
The indictment states that between May 2010 and October 2011, the managers instructed their subordinates to submit false reports. The documents detailed how the bank was able to borrow funds at lower rates than was justified. The actions allegedly led to incorrect calculations in the LIBOR rate for the US dollar as the four top and four bottom submissions from the various banks were ignored in its calculation.
The rates affected the calculation of pricing in futures contracts, including that of the EuroDollar, various swaps, and other financial products affecting $170 million worth of financial products during the period.
Assistant Chief Carol Sipperly and Trial Attorneys Gary A. Winters and Timothy A. Duree of the Fraud Section of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew Amatruda of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York, are prosecuting the case. The case is being handled by the FBI.
All the defendants are assumed to be innocent until the charges are proven. The complexity involved in this case is a glimpse into the possible ways that exist to game the existing financial system.
“The integrity of our global financial markets relies upon each of its participants providing complete and accurate information,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Rohde.