Saturday, March 30, 2013

Perhaps the Department of Justice knew something when it didn't prosecute the banks; judge dismisses Libor case

For those of us who are not lawyers, it certainly appeared after the Too Big to Fail banks confessed to and paid fines for manipulating the benchmark interest rates, Libor in particular, that investors who suffered losses as a result of the manipulation would be able to recoup their losses.

Turns out that we were wrong.

As reported by the Wall Street Journal, the judge presiding over the case decided that because the banks agreed to cooperate in manipulating the rate the investors shouldn't be reimbursed.

With this ruling, the judge single-handedly validated the US Department of Justice's decision not to pursue any of the bankers for their misbehavior.

It turns out that the DoJ understood that no matter how strong the fact set, and the banks saying they are guilty of manipulating the benchmark interest rates for their benefit and paying a fine is a pretty strong fact set, judges would let the banks off.

This ruling appears to confirm that the Too Big to Fail truly are Too Big to Jail and they are in a position to engage in any illegal conduct that they would like.
A federal-court judge on Friday agreed to dismiss claims that the 16 banks targeted by the suits broke federal antitrust laws through alleged suppression of the London interbank offered rate, or Libor. 
In a 161-page ruling on the banks' motions to dismiss the leading suits seeking class-action status, U.S. District Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald allowed some of the claims to proceed, including allegations the banks breached commodities laws. 
But if her ruling stands, it would take out a central plank of the litigation. The federal antitrust claims that the judge threw out can pay up to triple damages.... 
Judge Buchwald said her ruling was based on the conflicting legal arguments affecting the suits, rather than whether the underlying allegations of rate-rigging were true.... 
Judge Buchwald ruled that the banks' alleged conduct didn't breach federal antitrust laws, partly because the Libor-setting process was a "cooperative endeavor" and "never intended to be competitive."
That means even if the banks did subvert the Libor process by putting in fake estimates, any losses suffered by investors and other plaintiffs would have resulted from the banks' "misrepresentation, not from harm to competition," the judge wrote.
Just wondering, but could any bank have become a participant in the Libor-setting process or was there a restriction, say based on size, on who could participate?

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