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Deutsche Bank fined £227m for ‘misleading’ regulator on Libor

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  • 23/04/2015
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The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has handed Deutsche Bank AG a £227m fine, its largest ever for Libor and Euribor-related misconduct, including destroying tapes of 482 phone calls.

The fine is so large because Deutsche Bank misled the regulator, which could have hampered the investigation.

Georgina Philippou, acting director of enforcement and market oversight, said: “This case stands out for the seriousness and duration of the breaches by Deutsche Bank – something reflected in the size of today’s fine. One division at Deutsche Bank had a culture of generating profits without proper regard to the integrity of the market. This wasn’t limited to a few individuals but, on certain desks, it appeared deeply ingrained.”

“Deutsche Bank’s failings were compounded by them repeatedly misleading us. The bank took far too long to produce vital documents and it moved far too slowly to fix relevant systems and controls.”

“This case shows how seriously we view a failure to cooperate with our investigations and our determination to take action against firms where we see wrongdoing.”

Between January 2005 and December 2010, trading desks at Deutsche Bank manipulated its submissions across all major currencies.

Libor and Euribor are based on daily estimates of the rates (submissions) at which banks on a panel can borrow funds in the inter-bank market. They are fundamental to the operation of both UK and international financial markets, including markets in interest rate derivatives contracts, said the FCA.

This misconduct involved at least 29 Deutsche Bank individuals including managers, traders and submitters, primarily based in London but also in Frankfurt, Tokyo and New York.

Deutsche Bank’s misconduct in relation to EURIBOR exemplifies how serious its failings were, and the potential they had to have a significant impact on the markets.

Traders at Deutsche Bank used a three pronged approach to attempt to maximise the impact on EURIBOR. These were:
• To influence Deutsche Bank’s submitters to alter the Bank’s Euribor submissions;
• To collude with other banks that sat on the panel that submitted the rates on which EURIBOR is based and request that they alter their submissions; and
• On occasion to offer or bid cash in the market to create the impression of a change in the supply of funding in order to influence other panel banks to alter their submissions.

This misconduct went unchecked because of Deutsche Bank’s inadequate systems and controls, said the regulator.

It said the bank did not have any systems and controls specific to IBOR and did not put them in place even after being put on notice that there was a risk of misconduct. The bank also had defective systems to support the audit and investigation of misconduct by traders.

For example, the Bank’s systems for identifying and recording traders’ telephone calls and for tracing trading books to individual traders were inadequate. As a result, Deutsche Bank took over two years to identify and produce all relevant audio recordings requested by the FCA.

Deutsche Bank gave the FCA misleading information about its ability to provide a report commissioned by the German regulator, BaFin. Deutsche Bank did not disclose the report to the FCA and claimed that BaFin had prevented it from being shared when this was untrue.

In addition, Deutsche Bank provided the FCA with a false attestation that stated that its systems and controls in relation to LIBOR were adequate. This was despite the complete lack of IBOR systems and controls. It was known to be false by the person who drafted it.

The FCA’s investigation was made more difficult and was delayed because Deutsche Bank failed to provide timely, accurate and complete information. In one instance, Deutsche Bank in error destroyed 482 tapes of telephone calls, which fell within the scope of an FCA notice requiring their preservation. Deutsche Bank also provided inaccurate information to the regulator about whether other records existed.

Deutsche Bank settled at an early stage of the investigation, qualifying for a 30% discount on its fine. Without the discount, the fine would have been £324m.

The FCA’s fine of approximately $340m is the bank’s smallest penalty yet, after three US regulators slapped the bank with collective fines worth over $2175m.

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