News / Europe

British Banking Scandal Likely to Spread

A view of Barclays headquarters at London's Canary Wharf financial district, July 3, 2012.A view of Barclays headquarters at London's Canary Wharf financial district, July 3, 2012.
x
A view of Barclays headquarters at London's Canary Wharf financial district, July 3, 2012.
A view of Barclays headquarters at London's Canary Wharf financial district, July 3, 2012.
A scandal over a major British bank unfairly manipulating interest rates threatens to engulf more major banks around the world.  The case has already seen Barclays Bank pay a huge fine, sparked a flurry of investigations and hearings, and might result in changes in laws that govern financial firms.  

Impact

Barclays is one of 18 banks that help set a daily benchmark for many interest rates around the world by reporting what they expect to pay to borrow money.  The result is called the “LIBOR” which stands for "London Interbank Offered Rate."  

White-collar crime expert and former Department of Justice attorney Michael Weinstein says LIBOR has a huge impact on global commerce.

“It is fair to say it is not millions, it's not billions, it's trillions of dollars impacted by the LIBOR rate.  So the impact is not only domestic here in the United States, but globally and internationally,” Weinstein said.

Some of the efforts to manipulate interest rates occurred during the financial crisis, when investors, depositors, other banks, and regulators were worried about the financial strength of banks.

Barclays paid a fine of around $450 million for, among other things, lying to rate-setting officials by saying they were paying a lower interest rate than they actually were.

Pace University expert on corporate governance, John Alan James, says Barclays misled officials because a low interest rate is a vote of confidence in a borrower by a lender.

“They come in low and it shows that they are stronger than they really are,“ James said.

On other occasions, Barclays’ officials falsely said the interest rate they had to pay was higher than it actually was, in an effort to make money on investments that were essentially a bet that the LIBOR would rise.

Both actions hurt consumers.

Manipulation

Manipulating the LIBOR interest rate higher means people were unfairly forced to pay more on mortgages, student loans and other transactions.   And manipulating the interest rate lower unfairly cut the returns paid to people who rely on savings and investments with interest rates tied to LIBOR rates.  

Weinstein says investigations are underway in a number of countries and the scandal could spread widely.

“I think you are going to see almost all of the world’s major banks get hit with this to some degree.”

He adds he expects governments and regulators to tighten rules and supervision of banks in response.

But Hofstra University finance professor Anoop Rai says lawmakers and regulators must strike a careful balance; too little regulation allows too many dishonest practices, but too much supervision slows commerce and hurts the economy.

“It is very difficult to get an optimal set of regulations, too much or too little, said Rai. "And over time, markets forget, and we see this recurring behavior so many times,
one just has to scratch their head and say how do we get buyers to beware.”

Nevertheless, Pace University's John Alan James expects that some actual, constructive change will come from this scandal because, as he puts it, “This is too big to put under the rug. “

You May Like

Ukraine: Mysterious 'Roaming Tank' Reportedly Takes Aim at Smugglers

Ukraine's TV, print media, Facebook abuzz with reports a 'roaming tank' is on the loose, destroying vehicles of those involved in smuggling More

US Wildlife Service Begins Probe of Killing of Cecil the Lion

Minnesota man accused of killing beast is in hiding, has been asked to contact US officials; White House to review extradition petition More

Video Kerry Tour Will Cover Security, Iran Nuclear Deal

US secretary of state to visit 5 countries in the Middle East, South Asia in bid to strengthen economic and security ties, ease concerns over deal with Tehran More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Raymond Murdock from: Washington DC
July 14, 2012 11:55 AM
For some time this part was left in free alberdio banks that handle only the economies of each country. Inadmissible. Speaking of Economy and Banks is like talking about water and oil. Do not mix. Much less let them engage in Economy. The question is why does this happen? Overconfidence. Overestimation of honesty. Drivers or inspections obsolete. Conspirators or groups to commit unlawful. Loopholes. Jurisprudence which validates fraudulent acts without exemplary punishment. Free dubious agreements and guarantees to escape or avoid justice. Too obvious and made ​​worse by lack of something elemental?.-

by: Lorain from: USA
July 11, 2012 2:46 PM
Olympics in Britain... who want to go and see London...??? might as well stay in Cairo or Baghdad... UK has become Muslime
In Response

by: Mary from: USA
July 11, 2012 9:33 PM
London's a fascinating city and one of the most interesting places I've ever been; you're doing youself no favors by so blithly writing it off.
Your demographics are seriously off, by the way. The vast majority of the British are at least nominally Christian and secular in practice. No one's installing Sharia over common law there anytime soon.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’i
X
July 29, 2015 9:34 PM
Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video 'Metal Muscles' Flex a New Bionic Hand

Artificial limbs, including the most complex of them – the human hand – are getting more life-like and useful due to constant advances in tiny hydraulic, pneumatic and electric motors called actuators. But now, as VOA’s George Putic reports, scientists in Germany say the future of the prosthetic hand may lie not in motors but in wires that can ‘remember’ their shape.
Video

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video 'Positive Atmosphere' Points Toward TPP Trade Deal in Hawaii

Talks on a major new trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations are said to be nearing completion in Hawaii. Some trade experts say the "positive atmosphere" at the discussions could mean a deal is within reach, but there is still hard bargaining to be done over many issues and products, including U.S. drugs and Japanese rice. VOA's Jim Randle reports.
Video

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Moves to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Earth is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction. The last such event was caused by an asteroid 66 million years ago. It killed off the dinosaurs and practically everything else. So scientists are in a race against time to classify the estimated 11 million species alive today. So far only 2 million are described by science, and researchers are worried many will disappear before they even have a name. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Scientists: One-Dose Malaria Cure is Possible

Scientists have long been trying to develop an effective protection and cure for malaria - one of the deadliest diseases that affects people in tropical areas, especially children. As the World Health Organization announces plans to begin clinical trials of a promising new vaccine, scientists in South Africa report that they too are at an important threshold. George Putic reports, they are testing a compound that could be a single-dose cure for malaria.
Video

Video 'New York' Magazine Features 35 Cosby Accusers

The latest issue of 'New York' magazine features 35 women who say they were drugged and raped by film and television celebrity Bill Cosby. The women are aged from 44 to 80 and come from different walks of life and races. The magazine interviewed each of them separately, but Zlatica Hoke reports their stories are similar.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.
Video

Video Racially Diverse Spider-Man Takes Center Stage

Whether it’s in a comic book or on the big screen, fans have always known the man behind the Spider-Man mask as Peter Parker. But that is changing, at least in the comic book world. Marvel Comics announced that a character called Miles Morales will replace Peter Parker as Spider-Man in a new comic book series. He is half Latino, half African American, and he is quite popular among comic book fans. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Historic Symbol Is Theme of Vibrant New Show

A new exhibit in Washington is paying tribute to the American flag with a wide and eclectic selection of artwork that uses the historic symbol as its central theme. VOA’s Julie Taboh was at the DC Chamber of Commerce for the show’s opening.

VOA Blogs