RBS Bank Says to Pay 'Significant Penalties' over Libor


Royal Bank of Scotland on Wednesday said it expected to pay "significant penalties" and face other sanctions from British and U.S. financial regulators over its role in the Libor rate-rigging scandal.

"RBS confirms that it is in late-stage settlement discussions with these authorities," the Edinburgh-based bank said in a statement.

"Although the settlements remain to be agreed, RBS expects they will include the payment of significant penalties as well as certain other sanctions."

Reports on Tuesday said RBS will settle its part of the Libor affair by paying U.S. and British authorities up to £500 million ($783 million, 577 million euros).

That would be more than Libor-related fines last year handed out to British bank Barclays but less than the amount slapped on Swiss lender UBS.

Dow Jones Newswires quoted one source as saying that an RBS unit, possibly based in Asia, could also plead guilty to a crime in the United States.

Some attempts to rig the Libor rate-setting process allegedly took place in Asia.

Other reports said the head of the lender's investment banking arm will step down, adding that John Hourican is to give up £4.0 million in past share awards.

The Libor, or London Interbank Offered Rate, estimates the rates at which banks lend money to each other and is used to calculate huge numbers of financial contracts around the world.

But the Libor system was found to be open to abuse, with some traders lying about borrowing costs to boost trading positions or make their bank seem more secure, a scandal that has seriously damaged the reputation of the City of London financial center.

Swiss bank UBS was the first bank to reveal problems in the rate-setting process, and two former UBS employees were charged in December when the group's UBS Securities Japan unit settled similar allegations with US and British authorities for $1.5 billion, the biggest amount to date.

U.S. Justice officials do not plan to charge individuals at RBS with crimes, Dow Jones said.

The British government owns more than 80 percent of the shares in RBS, owing to a massive £45.5 billion bailout of the bank during the global financial crisis.

There is considerable pressure in Britain for senior bank executives to take responsibility for the scandal.

Barclays bank in June agreed to pay around $450 million in connection with the affair, which led to the resignations of three Barclays senior board members, including chief executive Bob Diamond.

More than a dozen other institutions remain under investigation.

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