May 25, 2016
CFTC Orders Citibank, N.A. and Japanese Affiliates to Pay $175 Million Penalty for Attempted Manipulation of Yen LIBOR and Euroyen TIBOR, and False Reporting of Euroyen TIBOR and U.S. Dollar LIBOR
Citibank, N.A. Has Been Subject to Three CFTC Enforcement Actions for Benchmark Abuses (FX, ISDAFix, and LIBOR) Imposing a Total of $735 Million in Penalties and Requiring Extensive Remediation
Washington, DC—The U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) issued an Order today filing and settling charges against Citibank, N.A. (Citi); Citibank Japan Ltd. (CJL); and Citigroup Global Markets Japan Inc. (CGMJ) (collectively, Citi and its affiliates) relating to abuses of the London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR) and the Euroyen Tokyo Interbank Offered Rate (Euroyen TIBOR) benchmarks. Specifically, CGMJ is charged with attempting to manipulate Yen LIBOR and Euroyen TIBOR, and CJL with false reporting of Euroyen TIBOR, to benefit derivatives trading positions that were priced based on Yen LIBOR or Euroyen TIBOR. Separately, Citi is charged with the false reporting of U.S. Dollar LIBOR at times to avoid generating negative media attention and to protect its reputation during the financial crisis from the spring of 2008 through the summer of 2009.
Citi and its affiliates are ordered jointly and severally to pay a civil monetary penalty of $175 million, immediately cease and desist from further violations of the Commodity Exchange Act as charged, and adhere to specific undertakings to ensure the integrity of its LIBOR, Euroyen TIBOR, and other benchmark interest rate submissions.
Aitan Goelman, CFTC Director of Enforcement, commented: “The CFTC remains steadfast in its commitment to ensure the integrity of global benchmarks that are critical to the U.S. and international financial markets. As evident by today’s actions, the CFTC’s vigilance includes holding a financial institution, like Citi, responsible each time it acts to undermine a benchmark for its personal profit or benefit. At the same time, the CFTC recognizes Citi for promptly self-reporting the Yen LIBOR misconduct to the Division of Enforcement. The value of self-reporting violations in a timely and effective manner and providing cooperation consistent with that of a responsible player in our markets will not go unnoticed by the CFTC.”
Acts of Attempted Manipulation
The CFTC Order specifically finds that CGMJ, by and through the acts of certain of its traders, attempted to manipulate Yen LIBOR on multiple occasions from at least February 2010 through August 2010, and Euroyen TIBOR, at times, from April 2010 through June 2010, to benefit the derivatives trading positions of those traders. Specifically, a Tokyo-based senior Yen derivatives trader (Senior Yen Trader), hired by CGMJ to enhance the bank’s reputation in the Tokyo derivatives market, attempted to manipulate the benchmark fixings by using his contacts at other Yen LIBOR panel banks and at interdealer brokers to influence the Yen LIBOR submissions of other Yen panel banks. In addition, a senior manager who ran CGMJ’s Tokyo interest rates derivatives trading desk (Senior Yen Manager) pressured CJL’s Euroyen TIBOR submitters to adjust their submissions to benefit the Senior Yen Trader’s derivatives trading positions. CJL’s Euroyen TIBOR submitters, on a few occasions, took the Senior Yen Manager’s requests into account when making Euroyen TIBOR submissions.
Desire to Protect Citi’s Reputation
The Order further finds that at times from the spring of 2008 through the summer of 2009, Citi’s U.S. Dollar LIBOR submitters based its U.S. Dollar LIBOR submissions on a desire to avoid generating negative media attention and to protect Citi’s reputation in the market. As the financial crisis progressed through 2008, Citi experienced financial challenges that included liquidity concerns. During this time, Citi received a significant infusion of funds from the U.S. Government to alleviate the stresses in its funding. Citi, at times, had difficulty securing funding in the London interbank market at or below Citi’s LIBOR submissions, particularly in the longer tenors. Citi’s U.S. Dollar LIBOR submitters became concerned about the signaling effect that the Citi’s U.S. Dollar LIBOR submissions could have in the market. The submitters realized that the Citi’s submissions could draw negative media attention and raise questions about the stability of the bank. Accordingly, during this period, Citi’s submitters, at times, made U.S. Dollar LIBOR submissions based in whole or in part on a desire to avoid that negative scrutiny, rather than based on the fact that Citi, at times, would have had to pay above LIBOR in the London interbank market, particularly in the longer tenors, when securing funding for the bank. As a result, according to the Order, Citi’s U.S. Dollar LIBOR submissions, at times, did not accurately or solely reflect Citi’s assessment of the costs of borrowing unsecured funds in the London interbank market.
Conduct Occurred after Citi Was on Notice of the CFTC’s Investigation
According to the Order, Citi and its affiliates engaged in this conduct after they knew that the CFTC was investigating Citi’s U.S. Dollar LIBOR submission practices. Moreover, during late 2009, in meetings with Citi senior managers, the Senior Yen Trader talked openly about how he had tried to manipulate Yen LIBOR at his prior place of employment. Even though they were aware of the CFTC’s investigation, the senior managers did not notify the legal or compliance departments about the Senior Yen Trader’s admissions.
The Order recognizes the cooperation of Citi and its affiliates with the CFTC Division of Enforcement’s investigation. The CFTC also notes that in the summer of 2010, Citi identified the misconduct with respect to Yen LIBOR and Euroyen TIBOR, and promptly self-reported the misconduct of the Yen traders to the CFTC.
The CFTC thanks and acknowledges the valuable assistance of the U.S. Department of Justice, the Washington Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the United Kingdom Financial Conduct Authority, and the Financial Services Agency of Japan.
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With this Order, the CFTC has now imposed penalties of over $2.84 billion on entities for manipulative conduct with respect to LIBOR and other benchmark interest rates. In addition, for similar misconduct relating to the ISDA fix and foreign exchange benchmarks, the CFTC has imposed over $2.2 billion in penalties, for a total of over $5 billion in penalties in the CFTC’s enforcement program focused on ensuring the integrity of global financial benchmarks. Below is a list of the CFTC’s benchmark enforcement actions:
LIBOR Benchmark Cases
• In re Citibank, N.A., and affiliates (May 25, 2016) ($175 million penalty) (CFTC Press Release 7372-16)
• In re Deutsche Bank AG (April 23, 2015) ($800 million penalty) (CFTC Press Release 7159-15)
• In re UBS AG and UBS Securities Japan Co., Ltd. (December 19, 2012) ($700 million penalty) (CFTC Press Release 6472-12)
• In re Coöperatieve Centrale Raiffeisen-Boerenleenbank B.A. (Rabobank) (October 29, 2013) ($475 million penalty) (CFTC Press Release 6752-13)
• In re The Royal Bank of Scotland plc and RBS Securities Japan Limited (February 6, 2013) ($325 million penalty) (CFTC Press Release 6510-13)
• In re Barclays PLC, Barclays Bank PLC, and Barclays Capital Inc. (June 27, 2012) ($200 million penalty) (CFTC Press Release 6289-12)
• In re Lloyds Banking Group plc and Lloyds Bank plc (July 28, 2014) ($105 million penalty) (CFTC Press Release 6966-14)
• In re ICAP Europe Limited (September 25, 2013) ($65 million penalty) (CFTC Press Release 6708-13)
• In re RP Martin Holdings Limited and Martin Brokers (UK) Ltd. (May 15, 2014) ($1.2 million penalty) (CFTC Press Release 6930-14)
Foreign Exchange Benchmark Cases
• In re Barclays Bank PLC (May 20, 2015) ($400 million penalty) (CFTC Press Release 7181-15)
• In re Citibank, N.A. (November 11, 2014) ($310 million penalty) (CFTC Press Release 7056-14)
• In re JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A. (November 11, 2014) ($310 million penalty) (CFTC Press Release 7056-14)
• In re The Royal Bank of Scotland plc (November 11, 2014) ($290 million penalty) (CFTC Press Release 7056-14)
• In re UBS AG (November 11, 2014) ($290 million penalty) (CFTC Press Release 7056-14)
• In re HSBC Bank plc (November 11, 2014) ($275 million penalty) (CFTC Press Release 7056-14)
ISDAFIX Benchmark Cases
• In re Citibank, N.A., (May 25, 2016) ($250 million penalty) (CFTC Press Release 7371-16)
• In re Barclays PLC, Barclays Bank PLC, and Barclays Capital Inc. (May 20, 2015) ($115 million penalty) (CFTC Press Release 7180-15)
In these actions, the CFTC ordered each institution to undertake specific steps to ensure the integrity and reliability of the benchmarks.
CFTC Division of Enforcement staff members responsible for this case are: Anne M. Termine, Philip P. Tumminio, Jason T. Wright, Maura M. Viehmeyer, Rishi K. Gupta, Aimée Latimer-Zayets, Kassra Goudarzi, Terry Mayo, Elizabeth Padgett, Jordon Grimm, and Gretchen L. Lowe.
Last Updated: May 25, 2016