Libor Links Deleted From Banking Group's Site

Accusations of manipulation lead to distancing from role in setting rate

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The British Bankers’ Association, apparently distancing itself from controversy, has deleted links from its website that refer to its role in setting the London interbank rate as investigations over charges of rate manipulation swirl across the globe.

Bloomberg reported late Wednesday that the links were removed the previous week. On Tuesday the BBA met with bankers and regulators, and in a statement said, “The intention of contributors and the BBA is to engage in a sensible and structured discussion on options for developing Libor for a changing environment. We and the contributors intend to undertake this work in a manner that is conducive to market confidence.”

According to an unnamed source in the report, if it is determined that the BBA, which helped to design Libor 26 years ago, is not appropriate to oversee the benchmark, that duty could be taken over by the Bank of England’s proposed Prudential Regulation Authority.

Allegations of rate manipulation, so that banks could disguise that they had difficulty in borrowing funds, first surfaced in a March 2008 report from the central bank for banks, the Bank for International Settlements, which indicated that institutions were “wary of revealing” any data that could indicate their struggles.

Three months after the report was issued, the BBA made the first changes to the way Libor was calculated since 1998; the group increased the number of banks that contributed figures to the calculation and also said it would require justification for any discrepancies between any bank’s rate submissions and those of its competitors, with the caveat that it would remove repeat offenders from participating in the process.

Brian Mairs, a spokesman for the BBA, was cited as saying that responsibility for setting the rate belongs to Thompson Reuters. Thompson Reuters spokesman Calvin Mitchell was quoted saying, “Thomson Reuters continues to calculate and distribute Libor on behalf of the BBA and in accordance with its governance procedures. We’ll support the BBA should any changes be recommended.”

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