The Wall Street Journal story today about the next Libor domino to fall – RBS, which will be coughing up $700mm or so to regulators in the next few weeks – is full of quietly hilarious lines, perhaps none more so than the Journal‘s deadpan clarification that “the Justice Department has the power to file […]
Like many of its peers in the banking world, RBS used to make a habit of manipulating Libor (among other things). And, as recent reports suggest, the Royalest Bank of Scotland is probably going to be forced to cough up £300m (and fire a couple execs) to convince the government everyone is very sorry and it won’t happen again. How does the bank, which has not had a money-making quarter since the financial crisis,* plan to come up with the cash? By 1) taking back bonuses that were already paid out to people who were involved in the scandal and 2) reducing everyone‘s bonus this year.
I assume that there’s someone somewhere whose job it is to think about this, but the big Libor fine that appears to be in UBS’s future got me wondering: how do they decide how big these fines are supposed to be? In most fraud cases you can tot up how much someone stole and use […]
Just because their manipulation of Libor has gotten the most notice doesn’t mean it’s the only thing like to mess with. Don’t box them into that corner, like your one-trick ponies at Barclays.
Royal Bank of Scotland suspended a trader for trying to rig the Singapore dollar swap offer rate, indicating employees may have sought to manipulate more than just Libor, two people briefed on the matter said. Senior trader Chong Wen Kuang was put on leave earlier this year for trying to rig the interest rate to benefit his trading position, said the people who asked not to be identified because the bank is probing his actions. He is the first RBS employee to be suspended or fired for attempting to rig a benchmark other than the London interbank offered rate, one of the people said.
One thing that most people probably agree on is that having their instant messages, e-mails, and phone calls end up court would be cause for at least a little embarrassment. Everyone’s thrown in an emoticon they aren’t proud of, some of us have used company time to chat with significant others about undergarments, and the vast majority of workers have spent a not insignificant amount of the workday talking shit about their superiors. Of course, the humiliation gets ratcheted up a notch in the case of people who ‘haha’ (and in extreme circumstances “hahahah’) their own jokes* which, just for example, involve habitual Libor manipulation. Tan Chi Min knows what we’re talking about:
“Nice Libor,” Tan said in an April 2, 2008, instant message with traders including Neil Danziger, who also was fired by RBS, and David Pieri. “Our six-month fixing moved the entire fixing, hahahah.”
And while having such an exchange become public would be tremendously awkward for most, you know what’s really ‘hahaha’ about this whole thing is that 1) Tan was the one who wanted people to read the above, which was submitted as part of a 231-page affidavit earlier this month and 2) He’s trying to use it as evidence that he didn’t deserve to be fired.
The conversations among traders at RBS and firms including Deutsche Bank AG illustrate how the risk of abuse was embedded in the process for setting Libor, the benchmark for more than $300 trillion of securities worldwide……Tan, the bank’s former Singapore-based head of delta trading for Asia, [is] suing Britain’s third-biggest lender by assets for wrongful dismissal after being fired last year for allegedly trying to manipulate the London interbank offered rate, or Libor.
Tan, who ‘allegedly‘ tried to manipulate the London interbank offered rate, also included this conversations as part of his defense:
“What’s the call on Libor,” Jezri Mohideen, then the bank’s head of yen products in Singapore, asked Danziger in an Aug. 21, 2007, chat.
“Where would you like it, Libor that is,” Danziger asked, according to a transcript included in Tan’s filings.
“Mixed feelings, but mostly I’d like it all lower so the world starts to make a little sense,” another trader responded.
“The whole HF world will be kissing you instead of calling me if Libor move lower,” Tan said, referring to hedge funds.
“OK, I will move the curve down 1 basis point, maybe more if I can,” Danziger replied.
In another conversation on March 27, 2008, Tan called for RBS to raise its Libor submission, saying an earlier lower figure the bank submitted may have cost his team 200,000 pounds.
“We need to bump it way up high, highest among all if possible,” Tan said.
Tan also asked for a high submission in an Aug. 20, 2007, instant message to Scott Nygaard, global head of RBS’s treasury markets in London.
“We want high fix in 3s,” Tan said in the message. “Neil is the one setting the yen Libor in London now and for this week and next.”
“It’s just amazing how Libor fixing can make you that much money or lose if opposite,” Tan said on an Aug. 19, 2007, conversation with traders at other banks, including Deutsche Bank’s Mark Wong. “It’s a cartel now in London.”
And this philosophical one, for good measure:
“This whole process would make banks pull out of Libor fixing,” Tan said in a May 16, 2011, chat with money markets trader Andrew Smoler. “Question is what is illegal? If making money if bank fix it to suits its own books are illegal… then no point fixing it right? Cuz there will be days when we will def make money fixing it.”
The defense rests.
*Although actually people who do this probably don’t even have the good sense to be ashamed of themselves.
Like Bank of America, RBS has some big goals for the coming year, chief among them being the firing of several thousand investment bankers. (For those skeptical they can do it, according to a PowerPoint presentation presented yesterday, re: the “exits,” quite a bit of progress has already been made.)
Royal Bank of Scotland, Britain’s biggest government-owned lender, said it will cut 300 more jobs at its investment banking unit and is “on track” with its plan to exit businesses. RBS will eliminate 3,800 jobs at the division by the fourth quarter of next year, compared with an earlier target of 3,500, according to slides based on a presentation delivered by John Hourican, chief of markets and international banking, to analysts Monday. About 3,000 of the cuts will have completed this year, RBS said…The bank’s control of costs is “ongoing,” said Chris Kyle, chief financial officer of markets and international banking, at the presentation. “We will almost certainly hit this year’s number” in terms of the guidance, he said.
It’s hard to see what is news about the latest Libor news but it exists so let’s paste it here: Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc managers condoned and participated in the manipulation of global interest rates, indicating that wrongdoing extended beyond the four traders the bank has fired. In an instant-message conversation in late […]
A trader at RBS has admitted to making a fat finger trade in the EUR/CHF pair Monday, a spokesperson for the bank told Reuters. The error caused a series of algorithmic trades from other traders to flood the market, sending the pair spiking for a short period of time. The trades which took place on […]
The bad news is that 600 of the Queen’s corgis are being let go. The good news, while it probably comes as little solace to those who will no longer receive birthday chickens, is that 300 or so new ones will be hired in their place.
State-backed lender Royal Bank of Scotland is making more than 600 staff redundant as a result of legislation due to come into force at the end of the year, bringing total staff reductions at the bank since its 2008 bailout to around 36,000. RBS, 82 percent owned by the government, said the jobs would go as a result of new UK rules requiring retail financial products such as savings and investment vehicles to be sold by more highly qualified staff and charged a fee. “As a response to this we will be reducing the number of roles by 618 across the UK and creating 351 new roles,” an RBS spokesman said on Tuesday. “Having to cut jobs is the most difficult part of our work to rebuild RBS and repay taxpayers for their support. We continue to make efficiencies across our business to deliver greater value to our customers and shareholders,” the spokesman added.
RBS Job Loss Hits 36,000 [Reuters]
Sir Philip Hampton said investors who owned RBS shares before its £45.5bn bailout in October 2008 were likely to be dead before the bank’s value recovered to anything close to its pre-crisis level. “I don’t think shareholders wealth is likely to be restored any time in my lifetime or some lifetimes beyond,” said Sir Philip, […]
Earlier today the Royal Bank of Scotland reported a loss of £2 billion ($3.13 billion) for last year, which CEO Stephen Hester noted was in line with the estimates he projected in his five-year turnaround plan for the bank. To that end, Hester told reporters that contrary to popular belief, his team is working quite […]
Breaking his silence after the furore over his near £1m bonus and Fred Goodwin’s knighthood, Mr. Hester emailed employees admitting that such political and media attention makes the job more difficult. “There is no doubt that our position in the spotlight makes the job harder. But the best way to deal with it is to […]
The Royal Bank of Scotland Group PLC’s chairman on Friday acknowledged that the bank had miscalculated the public and political reaction to the £963,000 (around $1.5 million) bonus in shares awarded to Chief Executive Stephen Hester, who subsequently turned down the payment…”We knew it would be a difficult reaction, but the speed and scale of […]
The past couple years have not been what one might characterize as the best of times for former RBS CEO Fred Goodwin. After retiring from his post in November 2008, he missed out on helping the bank collect the award for biggest loss in British corporate history (£24.1 billion for the year), the windshield of […]
The Queen did want to acknowledge all the work he’s done, though, so she threw the government worker a bone he can collect a few years from now.
Remember, back in late December, when RBS sent out a holiday card to employees telling them to buck up, because, contrary to what everyone had heard, management would not be taking a “knee-jerk approach” to laying off employees, but rather thoughtfully “re-examining business strategy and resource deployment” and hey, maybe they wouldn’t end up firing […]