British broker-dealer RP Martin have been fined over $2 million by British and American regulators over charges of manipulating crucial interbank borrowing rates.
RP Martin is the second interdealer broker to be penalized in the case after ICAP plc (LON:IAP) was fined $88 million by the FCA and CFTC in September.
Libor, or the London Interbank Offered Rate, is a global benchmark that is calculated daily, using estimates from banks of their own interbank rates. The Libor scandal erupted a couple of years ago when Barclays was fined £290 million by British and U.S. regulators for attempted manipulation of Libor.
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Since 2008, financial institutions have paid a total of more than $5 billion in penalties to settle U.S., U.K. and European Union allegations they tried to rig Libor, and a dozen individuals have been criminally charged in the U.S. or U.K.
Over $2 million fine
RP Martin agreed to pay $1.2 million in penalties on Thursday to settle allegations by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission related to the manipulation of the Libor as it was tied to the Japanese yen. The broker-dealer was also fined 630,000 pounds or about $1 million by the Financial Conduct Authority of Britain related to conduct by employees at its Martin Brokers unit.
Tracey McDermott, the FCA’s head of enforcement, said in a statement: “The culture at Martins was that profit came first. Compliance was seen as a hindrance and the firm lacked the means to detect the ‘wash trades’. In this environment, broker misconduct was almost inevitable”.
Interestingly, the broker-dealer was subjected to a discounted fine. RP Martin would have faced a 3.6 million-pound penalty from the U.K., but the regulator accepted its argument that it couldn’t pay the amount in addition to the other regulators’ fines that it owes over Libor manipulation. The firm also received the FCA’s standard 30% discount for cooperating early.
The penalty against R.P. Martin brings to six the number of financial institutions penalized by U.S. and British authorities for attempting to rig the Libor. In its statement, RP Martin said: “Over the last 12 months, the board has comprehensively restructured the firm’s governance, systems and controls and compliance procedures”.