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It’s rather a moot point, given that there is no longer a London Interbank Offered Rate to manipulate. But for all of the handwringing and massive, whistleblower program-breaking fines and prosecutorial effort, it can now be conclusively stated that manipulating it wasn’t actually illegal under U.S. law.

“While defendants’ efforts to take advantage of [Deutsche Bank’s] position as a Libor panel contributor in order to affect the outcome of contracts to which DB had already agreed may have violated any reasonable notion of fairness, the government’s failure to prove that the Libor submissions did not comply with the BBA Libor Instruction and were false or misleading means it failed to prove conduct that was within the scope of the statute prohibiting wire fraud schemes,” the appellate judges said.

This of course means that, all of the sound and fury notwithstanding, all four traders convicted by a jury (as opposed to the six suckers who pleaded guilty to what is now a non-crime) have been cleared of said non-crime.

“Reasonable notions of fairness,” however, still reign in Hong Kong, as Citigroup and a host of its former traders are finding out.

The city’s Securities and Futures Commission said Friday it had fined Citigroup Global Markets Asia Ltd. HK$348.25 million, or the equivalent of about $44.7 million, for misconduct on some of the bank’s equities-trading desks between 2008 and 2018./The regulator’s chief executive, Ashley Alder, said the failures “exposed a culture that encouraged chasing revenue at the expense of basic standards of honesty.” He added that as the bank tried to increase its market share and grow its business, “deceptive practices were deployed at the expense of clients’ best interest and to the detriment of market integrity.”/The punishment relates to misleading investors about whether they were transacting with other big institutions—with Citigroup merely matching buyer and seller—or if Citigroup was trading from its own account.

Ex-Deutsche Bank Traders’ Libor Convictions Tossed on Appeal [Bloomberg]
All U.S. Trial Convictions in Crisis-Era Libor Rigging Have Now Been Overturned [WSJ]
Citigroup Fined for Misconduct in Asian Stock Trading [WSJ]

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