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Crime

UBS admits to fraud in Libor scandal, accepts hefty fine

Swiss bank UBS will have to pay a fine of $1.5 billion for orchestrating manipulations of the London Interbank Offered Rate (Libor). The rigged interest rate caused people to pay more for loans.

The settlement, accepted by UBS on Wednesday, includes payment of $1.2 billion (1.1 billion euros) in combined fines to the US Department of Justice and the country's Commodity Futures Trading Commission, as well as 160 million British pounds to the UK's Financial Services Authority (FSA) and 59 million Swiss francs to Swiss regulator Finma.

"The misconduct was extensive and widespread," British FSA regulators said, as UBS traders had "routinely made requests" to other banks to manipulate Libor submissions in efforts to benefit their own trading positions.

FSA regulators also said that 45 people, including traders, managers and senior managers were involved in the practice, discussing their strategies to move the Libor up or down in internal chat forums and group e-mails.

The London Interbank Offered Rate is the average interest rate estimated by leading banks in London, based on borrowing charges in the banking industry. It is the primary benchmark for short-term interest rates around the world, determining credit costs from mortgages to corporate lending.

"We deeply regret this inappropriate and unethical behavior," said UBS Chief Executive Sergio Ermotti. He added that the bank would remain committed to doing business with integrity, as it considered the reputation of UBS more important than any amount of profit.

Ermotti also announced that up to 40 employees would have to leave the bank over the scandal.

The UBS fine comes after British Barclays Bank accepted a $450 million fine on June for its involvement in rigging Libor. Currently, Libor investigations are underway at about 20 banks, including global players such as Germany's Deutsche Bank and Royal Bank of Scotland.

uhe/hc (dpa, Reuters)

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