Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The Wall Street multibillion-dollar scandal no one is talking about—LIBOR

FORTUNE -- Much of the talk about bad behavior on Wall Street since the financial crisis has been about mortgages with a little bit of insider trading sprinkled in. And that makes sense. Everyone immediately understands what a mortgage is. And the housing bust that resulted from all those bad home loans affected us all. And Hollywood has taught us to ooh and ah over insider trading.

But there is another scandal that has come out of the financial crisis that at least to me makes the mortgage underwriting scandal look like small peanuts, and it has been heating up lately. Two weeks ago, the government disclosed that it is looking into bringing criminal cases against traders and banks that manipulated a key bank lending rate, called LIBOR. A source close to the case says the government's "may" will be dropped soon. Both Barclays and Deutsche Bank have disclosed that they have been the focus of investigations. Banks have suspended dozens of traders. Today, Credit Suisse announced that it was cooperating with regulators on the case. Traders at UBS reportedly are already working with the government on its investigation. Looking for instances in which Wall Streeters go to jail, unlike mortgages, this may be the one.

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