Accused Barclays Chief Libor Manipulator Says Fudging Most Important Number In The World A Real Pain, Not Something He Thought About Much

It was all in a day’s rather tedious, completely innocent work.
Getty Images

Getty Images

Before retiring from Barclays in 2012, Colin Bermingham was the bank’s pointman on matters Libor. Specifically, he ran Barclays’ team that set the bank’s submission on what Libor—the benchmark rate linked to $350 trillion in financial instruments and the baseline for just about every mortgage and credit-card rate on earth. Quite frankly, though, he didn’t give much thought to what he was doing—which was a real pain-in-the-ass, if you must know—or, it seems, to what Libor was.

“It would always have been in my mind that it would’ve been a rounding matter,” said Bermingham, although he said he didn’t recall his thoughts or actions of the time. “It was never in my mind that this would ever be affecting every citizen in the euro zone or in Europe, not in a million years….”

If he’d had a choice, Bermingham said he wouldn’t been involved in the process, as it was nothing more than a “chore….”

"I didn’t think about it," he said. "I never looked at the outcome. Back then it didn’t seem anything was amiss or wrong with us taking those requests into account."

Ah, yes, the “requests.” You know, those innocent suggestions via IM about what Barclays’ Libor submission should be and thanking people for the “help in the past few weeks” from derivatives traders. Because who would ever accuse derivatives traders, already far too busy not fucking up, of doing something to make money? Certainly not Colin Bermingham.

”There was nothing to say that I shouldn’t take a request into account,” Bermingham said. “I didn’t think even a little bit that it was like cheating. I had a clear conscience.”

He also never considered whether a derivatives trader ended up making a profit based on his submission, Bermingham said.

Now, in fairness to Bermingham, he’s right when he says Barclays didn’t officially ban traders from attempting to meddle with Libor submissions until 2010, and that apparently no one at the bank ever even considered that there might be at the very least an appearance of impropriety in the whole thing. On the other hand, there’s no evidence that Bermingham suffers from even mild autism or has been subjected to an in-office head injury, so he lacks those excuses which, in any event, didn’t do anyone any good, anyway.

Ex-Barclays Trader Says Fixing Rates Didn’t Feel Like ‘Cheating’ [Bloomberg]