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Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer Speaks at the
UBS Press Conference


Washington, DC
United States

Thank you, Attorney General Holder.

Today, UBS Japan has agreed to plead guilty in connection with one of the most significant scandals ever to hit the global banking industry. For years, including at the height of the financial crisis, UBS manipulated its submissions to the British Bankers’ Association for calculation of the London Interbank Offered Rate, or LIBOR. UBS AG, the banking giant and parent company of UBS Japan, has also entered into a non-prosecution agreement with the Justice Department, agreeing together with UBS Japan to pay $500 million to resolve our allegations related to the bank’s manipulation of LIBOR. Together with approximately $1 billion in regulatory penalties and disgorgement, these criminal penalties bring the total amount of today’s resolution to $1.5 billion.

The bank’s conduct was simply astonishing. Hundreds of trillions of dollars in mortgages, student loans, credit card debt, financial derivatives, and other financial products worldwide are tied to LIBOR, which serves as the premier benchmark for short-term interest rates. In short, the global marketplace depends upon an accurate LIBOR. Yet UBS, like Barclays before it, sought repeatedly to fix LIBOR for its own ends – in this case, so UBS traders could maximize profit on their trading positions, and so the bank wouldn’t appear vulnerable to the public during the financial crisis.

In addition to UBS Japan’s agreement to plead guilty, two former UBS traders – Tom Alexander William Hayes and Roger Darin – have been charged, in a criminal complaint unsealed today, with conspiracy to manipulate LIBOR. Hayes has also been charged with wire fraud and an antitrust violation. There was nothing subtle about these traders’ alleged conduct. In one instance, according to the complaint, Hayes explained to a junior rate submitter that he and Darin “generally coordinate” and “skew the libors a bit.” In another instance, according to the complaint, Hayes told a trader at another bank that, “3m libor is too high cause i have kept it artificially high.”

The scope of the misconduct admitted to by UBS AG and UBS Japan is far-reaching. For years, traders at UBS sought to manipulate the bank’s LIBOR submissions for their own profit. The traders had positions in interest rate swaps that depended on UBS’s LIBOR submissions. And, on numerous occasions, they caused UBS to make LIBOR submissions that directly benefited their own trading books. UBS’s manipulation was extensive, and covered several currencies and interest rates.

Make no mistake: for UBS traders, the manipulation of LIBOR was about getting rich. As one broker told a UBS derivatives trader, according to the statement of facts appended to our agreement with the bank, “mate yur getting bloody good at this libor game . . . think of me when yur on yur yacht in monaco wont yu.”

From 2006 to 2009, according to the complaint unsealed today against Hayes and Darin, Hayes arranged to move UBS’s Yen LIBOR submissions in directions that would maximize his profit on the trading positions he took for the bank; and Darin repeatedly made false Yen LIBOR submissions on behalf of Hayes. The complaint also alleges that Hayes contacted brokers to influence them to disseminate false information about LIBOR. Hayes further allegedly made efforts to coordinate with traders at other banks to try to move their banks’ LIBOR submissions in directions that would help his trading positions.

Since the government’s investigation began, UBS has changed its senior leadership and improved its compliance and training programs. UBS has also cooperated with the Justice Department, and has agreed to continue doing so, as we pursue our ongoing, and active investigation into the manipulation of LIBOR.

We cannot, and we will not, tolerate misconduct on Wall Street of the kind admitted to by UBS today, and by Barclays last June. We will continue to follow the facts and the law wherever they lead us in this matter, as we do in every case.

I want to thank the many tenacious prosecutors in the Criminal Division, as well as the Antitrust Division, who are working on the LIBOR investigation, as well as the many talented agents and analysts at the FBI who have worked so hard on this case. I would also like to thank our colleagues at the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, the United Kingdom Financial Services Authority, and the Securities and Exchange Commission for their important parallel investigations; and the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority, the Japanese Ministry of Justice, and the Japan Financial Services Authority for their valuable assistance.

Thank you.

Updated September 17, 2014