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Thursday, November 5, 2015

Two Former Rabobank Traders Convicted for Manipulating U.S. Dollar, Yen LIBOR Interest Rates

A federal jury convicted two former Coöperatieve Centrale Raiffeisen-Boerenleenbank B.A. (Rabobank) derivative traders – including the bank’s former Global Head of Liquidity & Finance in London – today for manipulating the London InterBank Offered Rates (LIBOR) for the U.S. Dollar (USD) and the Yen, benchmark interest rates to which trillions of dollars in interest rate contracts were tied.  Five former Rabobank employees have now been convicted in the Rabobank LIBOR investigation.

Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, Assistant Attorney General Bill Baer of the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division and Assistant Director in Charge Paul Abbate of the FBI’s Washington Field Office made the announcement.

“Today’s verdicts illustrate the department’s successful efforts to hold accountable bank executives responsible for this global fraud scheme,” said Assistant Attorney General Caldwell.  “This investigation—which also resulted in the recent conviction of a bank executive in the U.K.—exemplifies the department’s work with our international partners to protect our global markets from fraud.  The verdicts also demonstrate the department’s ongoing efforts to hold individuals who use their corporate positions to commit fraud personally responsible for their actions.”

“The department will continue to pursue aggressively those involved in illegal schemes that undermine the integrity of financial markets,” said Assistant Attorney General Baer.  “And we will hold individuals criminally accountable for directing illegal corporate behavior.”

“These convictions make clear that bank executives and traders will be held accountable for manipulating world interest rates for their own personal benefit,” said Assistant Director in Charge Abbate.  “Today’s verdict is a testament to the dedication of the special agents, analysts and prosecutors who worked tirelessly to uncover manipulation and fraud in the global financial system.”

After a four-week trial, a jury in the Southern District of New York found Anthony Allen, 44, of Hertsfordshire, England, and Anthony Conti, 46, of Essex, England, guilty of conspiracy to commit wire and bank fraud and substantive counts of wire fraud. 

As the trial evidence showed, LIBOR is an average interest rate, calculated based upon submissions from leading banks around the world and reflecting the rates those banks believe they would be charged if borrowing from other banks.  At the time relevant to the charges, LIBOR was calculated for 10 currencies at 15 maturities, ranging from overnight to one year, and was published by the British Bankers’ Association (BBA), a London-based trade association, based on submissions from a panel of 16 banks, including Rabobank.  Allen, Conti and Paul Robson, who previously pleaded guilty to the conspiracy charge, each determined Rabobank’s LIBOR submissions on various occasions.

LIBOR serves as the primary benchmark for short-term interest rates globally and is used as a reference rate for many interest rate contracts, mortgages, credit cards, student loans and other consumer lending products.  Rabobank invested in various derivatives contracts that were directly affected by the relevant LIBOR rates on a certain dates.  If the relevant LIBOR moved in the direction favorable to the defendants’ positions, Rabobank and the defendants benefitted at the expense of the counterparties.  When LIBOR moved in the opposite direction, the defendants and Rabobank stood to lose money to their counterparties.

Evidence at trial established that Allen, who was Rabobank’s global head of liquidity and finance and the manager of the company’s money market desk in London, oversaw a system in which Rabobank employees who traded in these LIBOR-linked derivative products influenced the employees who submitted Rabobank’s LIBOR contributions to the BBA.  These traders asked Allen, Conti, Robson and others to submit LIBOR contributions that would benefit the traders’ or the banks’ trading positions. 

Sentencing is scheduled for March 10, 2016.

In addition to Allen and Conti, three other former Rabobank employees have been convicted in the Rabobank LIBOR investigation.  Robson, Lee Stewart and Takayuki Yagami each pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy in connection with their roles in the scheme.  Two other former Rabobank employees, Tetsuya Motomura, 42, of Tokyo, and Paul Thompson, 48, of Dalkeith, Australia, have also been charged.  Rabobank entered into a deferred prosecution agreement with the department on Oct. 29, 2013, and agreed to pay a $325 million penalty to resolve violations arising from Rabobank’s LIBOR submissions.

The case was investigated by special agents, forensic accountants and intelligence analysts in the FBI’s Washington Field Office.  The prosecution is being handled by Senior Litigation Counsel Carol L. Sipperly and Assistant Chief Brian R. Young of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and Trial Attorney Michael T. Koenig of the Antitrust Division.  The Criminal Division’s Office of International Affairs and Deputy Chief Daniel Braun and Assistant Chief Brent Wible of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section are thanked for their substantial assistance in this matter.

The Justice Department expresses its appreciation for the assistance provided by various enforcement agencies in the United States and abroad.  The Commodity Futures Trading Commission’s Division of Enforcement referred this matter to the department and, along with the U.K. Financial Conduct Authority, played a major role in the LIBOR investigation.  The Securities and Exchange Commission also played a significant role in the LIBOR series of investigations, and the department expresses its appreciation to the United Kingdom’s Serious Fraud Office for its assistance and ongoing cooperation.   The department has worked closely with the Dutch Public Prosecution Service and the Dutch Central Bank in the investigation of Rabobank.  Various agencies and enforcement authorities from other nations are also participating in different aspects of the broader investigation relating to LIBOR and other benchmark rates, and the department is grateful for their cooperation and assistance.

This prosecution is part of 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.   

Securities, Commodities, & Investment Fraud
Updated August 22, 2016