A jury in the District Court in New York has convicted two former staffers of Rabobank LIBOR traders for conspiracy to unlawfully rig interest rates to the disadvantage of other traders. The two could face up to 30 years in jail.
Anthony Conti and Anthony Allen were charged by the U.S Department of justice after they were named as co-conspirators after the London Inter-Bank Offered Rate (LIBOR) scandal imploded in 2013. The guilty verdict dealt a blow to the two who put up a spirited fight for their freedom.
The 30 years in prison the accused are facing is the maximum sentence allowed in their case in which they were found culpable for interfering with the prevailing Benchmark rates from 2006 to 2011. March 20, 2016 is the date set for their sentencing. It is expected that the presiding judge will hand down stiff sentences in a precedent setting case which could herald a string of other cases of the same nature with global banks’ operations being given more than cursory interest by authorities.
The verdict in this case, which is the first in LIBOR cases against individual players on U.S. soil, has sent jitters all over the banking industry especially to traders who were in business during the global financial woes of the last decade.
Probe to widen
More financial organizations are set to come under intense scrutiny by the main regulators in the financial sectors of most western countries whose citizens and businesses were hard hit by unlawful practices during the years whenso many rules in financial propriety were binned in favor of unlawful but highly profitable practices. LIBOR scandals aside, the regulators have discovered that benchmarks in foreign exchange have been significantly been affected by some of the rogue financial houses.
The accused, both citizens of Britain have declared their intention to appeal their conviction through their lawyer Michael Schachter. Mr. Allen was convicted on one count of conspiring to rig benchmark interest rates under LIBOR. He was also convicted on no less than 18 counts of wire transfer and bank fraud. His countryman, Mr. Conti was also convicted on the count of conspiracy to rig the same benchmark rates and 8 counts for fraud in wire and bank transfers. The judge directed that the duo will remain behind bars until they are sentenced on March 20, 2016.
Department of Justice uncompromising
The U.S Department of Justice Assistant Attorney General for the Criminal Division Leslie R. Caldwell said after the verdict was read that the outcome of the cases was a clear indication of the commitment of international financial partners to rein in on the perpetrators and executors whatever their position in banking institutions of financial impropriety across all the affected nations. The same investigation has recently led to the same guilty verdict against another UK bank executive.
“The guilty verdicts handed down today are a testament to the department’s efforts which are bearing fruit to bring to book all bank executives responsible, whether partly or in full, for this scheme in global fraud,” he added.
Rabobank is the largest mortgage lending firm in The Netherlands has been fingered positively in the ongoing investigations. The bank has agreed to pay more than $1 billion to settle claims by regulators. The bank employees were heavily involved in illegal fixing of benchmark rates in the years covered by the investigation.
Mr. Allen’s and Mr. Conti’s convictions are the latest indications that rogue traders and bank executives will have their day in court to face conspiracy charges. This will undoubtedly appease the public who have always thought that bank executives, largely to blame for the financial woes got off too easily. In previous cases, it is the financial institutions that were targeted and not the individuals themselves which is now obviously the case as more charges are being prepared for more bank executives.
“The Department of Justice will be unrelenting in its mission to apprehend all those involved in compromising financial markets’ integrity,” said Mr. Bear, the Assistant Attorney General.
Assistant Director in Charge, Paul Abbate laid emphasis on the matter, “Traders and bank executives who, for their own or other interest, manipulate interest rates globally will be held individually accountable.”
Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force, put together by President Obama is leading the prosecution.