The US Department of Justice (DOJ) [official website] announced criminal charges [press release] Wednesday against two former UBS [corporate website] traders for allegedly helping UBS illegally manipulate foreign interest rates. The DOJ accused former traders Tom Hayes and Roger Darin of assisting in a conspiracy to manipulate the London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR) [Bank of England backgrounder], an interest rate used to assess the value of financial products and transactions around the world. In the press release, US Attorney General Eric Holder [official website] detailed the charges against Hayes and Darin:
By causing UBS and other financial institutions to spread false and misleading information about LIBOR, these alleged conspiratorsand others at UBSmanipulated the benchmark interest rate upon which many consumer financial productsincluding credit cards, student loans, and mortgagesare frequently based. They defrauded the company's counterparties of millions of dollars. And they did so primarily to reap increased profits, and secure bigger bonuses, for themselves.The DOJ also announced plans to file criminal charges against UBS Securities Japan, a subsidiary of UBS, for participating in the scheme to manipulate LIBOR.
UBS [JURIST news archive] has been involved in many legal disputes in recent years. In September the US Internal Revenue Service (IRS) [official website] awarded $104 million [JURIST report] to a former UBS banker for his role in uncovering that UBS helped American clients shelter assets from US tax liability. In July 2011 the Federal Supreme Court of Switzerland [official website, in German] ruled [JURIST report] that the Swiss government was correct in ordering UBS to disclose information to the US on more than 250 of the bank's clients. In July 2010 a Swiss court announced [JURIST report] that an agreement [text, PDF] with the US, allowing UBS to disclose account information of clients suspected by the US government of tax evasion, is binding.