Thursday, 28 June 2012

Fixing LIBOR

Yesterday Barclays Bank was fined £290 million for distorting the basic financial data used to set interest rates around the world.The LIBOR ( London Inter Bank Offered Rate) is used to set the value of many thousands of financial transactions across global markets every day. It is the rate at which banks borrow from each other and strict market rules insist that these rates must be reported accurately and honestly by a group of 15 of the worlds biggest banks. Traders at Barclays systematically distorted LIBOR for their own benefit and to mask the true financial position at the bank. The average UK saver or borrower could be forgiven for wondering if this world of nauseating  email exchanges with promises of Bollinger for favours done,really has anything at all to do with them.But of course it does. Rigging the LIBOR is like manipulating the price of money,  and in the real world that impacts small business loans, mortgages, credit cards and virtually anything else with an interest rate attached. At a time of economic austerity the reputational damage to Barclays is immense. No amount of celebrity-endorsed TV advertising will easily remove this particular stain. Surely this is the nadir for the banking sector? Or maybe not. It's clear that other banks are involved and Barclays is just first under the spotlight.  But surely it is also clear that the values and the true culture of a business is reflected in how staff behave towards their customers and in that regard the large PLC banks have nothing at all to teach mutual building societies. Of course we don't get everything right all the time, but the trust of our customers is at the core of the mutual ethos and that defines our clear distinctiveness at a time when many customers must doubt there is anyone they can trust or rely upon. Building societies have a proud heritage and we also have a contemporary commitment to conducting our business in a way which is transparent and fair. If any Barclays customers choose to walk away in disgust, then I can assure them of a warm welcome at The Hanley.                


  1. In 2010, Skipton Building Society went back on its promise to keep its SVR at no more than 3% above base rate citing difficult market conditions despit base rate being kept at .5%. Could there possibly be any link, however remote, between that decision and a flawed LIBOR rate due to the newly exposed fraud?

    1. An interesting thought but I don't believe the Skipton decision was rooted in the prevailing LIBOR rate but rather on the disparity between the low BBR and funding costs.Very important to recognise that the Skipton did nothing illegal and it acted with full knowledge of FSA.

  2. We had a mortgage with the Skipton - directly linked to the LIBOR,the period of the mortgage covered the dates in question for the "fixing" allegations.
    As a small player in this scandal I do feel someone should be held accountable for this and would be pleased to know if anyone could advise on compensation claims?

  3. So, no Building Societies,because of "mutuality" , have ripped-off the public with oppressive and unlawful penalty charges ?? or the "mis-selling" (fraud) of PPI?? or ruthless mass evictions ?? or laughable market-based endowment mortgage products ??? and "mutuals" will never be employing bank staff from tainted thieving banks ??