Utah, other states reach $100M settlement with Citibank over interest-rate fraud

Photo by bruceg1001 via Flickr, St. George News

SALT LAKE CITY — A group of 42 state attorneys general has reached a $100 million-settlement with Citibank for fraudulent conduct involving a benchmark interest rate that affects financial instruments worth trillions of dollars and has a widespread impact on global markets and consumers, according to a statement released Friday by Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes.

“Although (U.S. dollar London interbank offered rates) are calculated in London, they affect the interest rates that Utah consumers pay for many credit cards and variable rate mortgages, so keeping the LIBOR rate setting system honest is very important to our citizens,” Assistant Attorney General Eddie Vasquez said in the statement.

The attorneys general alleged that Citibank misrepresented the integrity of the LIBOR benchmark to state and local governmental, nonprofit, private and institutional trading counterparties by concealing, misrepresenting and failing to disclose that:

  • Citibank, at times, made USD LIBOR submissions to avoid negative publicity and protect the reputation of the bank.
  • Citibank’s USD LIBOR submitters, on occasion, asked Citibank personnel in other units of the bank to avoid offering higher rates than Citibank’s USD LIBOR submissions.
  • Citibank expressed belief that other banks, at times, made USD LIBOR submissions that were inconsistent with their borrowing rates and contributed to inaccurate LIBORs.

Given this conduct, Citibank had reason to believe that its and other banks’ LIBOR submissions did not reflect their true borrowing rates in accordance with the established public guidance. Citibank did not disclose this to the governmental and noprofit counterparties with which Citibank executed LIBOR-referenced transactions, even though these rates were material terms of the transactions.

As a result of its fraudulent conduct, Citibank made millions in unjust gains when government entities and nonprofit organizations entered into swaps and other financial contracts with Citibank without knowing that Citibank and other banks on the USD LIBOR-setting panel were manipulating LIBOR submissions.

Governmental and nonprofit entities with LIBOR-linked swaps and other investment contracts with Citibank will be notified if they are eligible to receive a distribution from a settlement fund of $95 million.

The balance of the settlement fund will be used to pay costs and expenses of the investigation and for other uses consistent with state laws.

Citibank is the third of several USD LIBOR-setting panel banks to resolve claims following an investigation by the attorneys general.

With the Citibank settlement, the attorneys general have collected $420 million from the three banks, almost all of which will be distributed to state and local government entities and nonprofits.

Citibank will continue to cooperate with the states’ ongoing investigation into other USD LIBOR-setting panel banks.

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Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2018, all rights reserved.

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1 Comment

  • RVer June 19, 2018 at 8:32 am

    In other words – the government keeps all the money or gives it to non-profits, while THE PEOPLE that were victims get nothing. Yay Government!

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