Two Former Deutsche Bank Employees Indicted on Fraud Charges in Connection with Long-Running Manipulation of Libor
Two former Deutsche Bank AG (Deutsche Bank) traders—the bank’s supervisor of the Pool Trading Desk in New York and a derivatives trader in London—were indicted for their alleged roles in a scheme to manipulate the U.S. Dollar (USD) London InterBank Offered Rate (LIBOR), a benchmark interest rate to which trillions of dollars in interest rate contracts were tied.
Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, Deputy Assistant Attorney General Brent Snyder of the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division and Assistant Director in Charge Paul M. Abbate of the FBI’s Washington Field Office made the announcement after the indictment was unsealed today.
On May 31, a federal grand jury in the Southern District of New York returned a 10-count indictment charging Matthew Connolly, 51, of Basking Ridge, New Jersey, and Gavin Campbell Black, 46, of London, with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and bank fraud and nine counts of wire fraud for their participation in a scheme to manipulate the USD LIBOR rate in a manner that benefited their own or Deutsche Bank’s financial positions in derivatives that were linked to those benchmarks. Connolly was taken into custody today and is expected to make his initial appearance this afternoon. The case has been assigned to Chief U.S. District Judge Colleen McMahon of the Southern District of New York.
Michael Curtler, 43, of London, a former Deutsche Bank derivatives trader and manager of the London Money Market Derivatives (MMD) Desk in London, pleaded guilty in October 2015 to one count of conspiracy to commit wire and bank fraud in connection with his role in the scheme.
“This indictment charges two senior traders with manipulating LIBOR to gain an illegal advantage in the market,” said Assistant Attorney General Caldwell. “Millions of people around the world rely on LIBOR and other global financial benchmarks as accurate and honestly-reported rates. Manipulation of these rates undermines the integrity of our financial system and the Justice Department will continue to hold accountable both the financial institutions and the individuals responsible for this conduct.”
“Healthy financial markets are crucial to a successful economy,” said Deputy Assistant Attorney General Snyder. “By corrupting this important benchmark rate, the defendants undermined the integrity of financial markets here and around the world. The department is committed to holding individuals accountable for the roles they play in committing complex financial crimes.”
“These federal charges outline the alleged criminal actions perpetrated by two banking insiders to manipulate the LIBOR interest rate, which is used to set interest rates for consumer loan products, including mortgages and credit cards,” said Assistant Director in Charge Abbate. “This indictment comes as a result of the dedicated and tireless efforts of agents, analysts and prosecutors committed to holding accountable those who deliberately compromise the integrity of our financial markets for personal gain.”
According to the indictment, LIBOR was an average interest rate, calculated based on submissions from leading banks around the world, reflecting the honest and unbiased rates those banks believed they would be charged if borrowing from other banks. LIBOR was published by the British Bankers’ Association, a trade association based in London. The published LIBOR “fix” for USD currency was the result of a calculation based upon submissions from a panel of 16 banks, including Deutsche Bank.
According to allegations in the indictment, Connolly was Deutsche Bank’s director of the Pool Trading Desk in New York, where he supervised traders who traded USD LIBOR-based derivative products. Black was a director on Deutsche Bank’s MMD Desk in London, who also traded USD LIBOR-based derivative products. In order to increase Deutsche Bank’s profits on derivatives contracts tied to the USD LIBOR, Connolly allegedly directed his subordinates, and Black allegedly asked Curtler and others at Deutsche Bank, to submit false and fraudulent LIBOR contributions consistent with the traders’ or the bank’s financial interests rather than the honest and unbiased costs of borrowing.
The charges in the indictment are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.
In April 2015, Deutsche Bank entered into a deferred prosecution agreement to resolve wire fraud and antitrust charges and Deutsche Bank Group Services (UK) Limited pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud, collectively agreeing to pay a $775 million fine, for the bank’s role in engaging in a scheme to defraud counterparties to interest rate derivatives trades by secretly manipulating USD LIBOR and other currencies submissions.
The Justice Department has previously announced resolutions with five other banks for their roles in manipulation of benchmark interest rates, including Barclays Bank PLC, UBS AG, The Royal Bank of Scotland plc, Coöperatieve Centrale Raiffeisen-Boerenleenbank B.A. and Lloyds Banking Group plc. The department has also charged 13 individuals as a result of this investigation. Three of those individuals have pleaded guilty, two have been convicted at trial, and the charges against the others are pending.
Special agents, forensic accountants and intelligence analysts of the FBI’s Washington Field Office are conducting the investigation. Senior Trial Attorney Carol L. Sipperly and Trial Attorneys Alison L. Anderson and Richard A. Powers of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and Trial Attorney Daniel M. Tracer of the Antitrust Division’s New York Office are prosecuting the case. Fraud Section Deputy Chief Benjamin D. Singer and Assistant Chief Jennifer L. Saulino have also provided valuable assistance in this matter.
The investigation leading to this case has required, and has greatly benefited from, a diligent and wide-ranging assistance among various enforcement agencies both in the United States and abroad. In particular, the department acknowledges and expresses its appreciation for this assistance from the Commodity Futures Trading Commission’s Division of Enforcement, the U.K. Financial Conduct Authority and the U.K. Serious Fraud Office. More than 20 individuals have been charged by the U.K. Serious Fraud Office for their roles in engaging in benchmark rate manipulation.
This prosecution is part of efforts underway by President Barack Obama’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force. President Obama established the interagency Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force to wage an aggressive, coordinated and proactive effort to investigate and prosecute financial crimes. The task force includes representatives from a broad range of federal agencies, regulatory authorities, inspectors general and state and local law enforcement who, working together, bring to bear a powerful array of criminal and civil enforcement resources. The task force is working to improve efforts across the federal executive branch, and with state and local partners, to investigate and prosecute significant financial crimes, ensure just and effective punishment for those who perpetrate financial crimes, combat discrimination in the lending and financial markets and recover proceeds for victims of financial crimes. For more information about the task force visit www.stopfraud.gov.