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LIBOR Manipulation Now Starts Bank Wars

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Barclays PLC (NYSE:BCS), may have paid $450 million in lawsuit charges and seen two of its top executives depart, owing to LIBOR manipulation accusations. However, according to the latest reports, that was just the beginning of the huge and lengthy battle of banks, that is set to take center stage for the next several months, or even years.

According to Wall Street Journal, Berkshire Bank, a New York based lender, with a total of 11 branches across New York and New Jersey; with an asset value of approximately $811 million, is seeking a lawsuit against the LIBOR manipulators, claiming the low LIBOR rate contributed to low interest income from loans tied to the global benchmark rate.

Elsewhere, Pensions and Investments online reported that BlackRock, Inc. (NYSE:BLK), Fidelity Investments, and Vanguard Group Inc., are considering taking legal action against the LIBOR manipulators, citing that their clients have been hurt by the action of the reportedly dozen banks under investigation.

The report highlights Charles Schwab Corp (NYSE:SCHW) and the city of Baltimore lawsuit against Barclays and other banks, which pointed at lower returns on interest-rate swaps, as a good lead for the asset managers, who wish to take on the rogue bankers. The money managers collectively oversee the management of over $7 trillion, a figure that may have given the wrong returns to the investors during the entire period that LIBOR was being manipulated.

Furthermore, the report also notes that the manipulation could have as well been both ways, meaning inflated lending rates could have been a possibility, which in turn may have affected private equity firms adversely, in terms of borrowing rates.

JPMorgan Chase & Co. (NYSE:JPM), Barclays PLC (NYSE:BCS), Bank of America Corp (NYSE:BAC), and Citigroup Inc. (NYSE:C), as some of the 21 banks reportedly sued by Berkshire. Switzerland based, UBS AG (NYSE:UBS) and Credit Suisse Group AG (NYSE:CS) are also mentioned in the  Pensions and Investments online report.

Looking at both extremes (inflated LIBOR or Deflated LIBOR) of manipulation, and considering that the rate acts as a benchmark, for nearly all the lending and borrowing rates affected on various financial instruments across the globe; it is utterly  unimaginable how big the magnitude of the impact ,the ripple effect from the various lawsuits set to be launched, could trigger. Forbes, predicts that this could end up costing billions in lawsuits pitting banks against banks; they being the main channels of global finances, this could yet trigger one of the greatest financial crises.

Indeed many firms are observing the situation as it unfolds to consider their options; Vincent Loporchio, a spokesman for Boston-based Fidelity, is quoted saying, “On behalf of our clients and shareholders, we have been following developments in the LIBOR market and the related litigation activity for some time,” he added, “We have noted recent news with interest and continue to evaluate our options.”

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