RP Martin fined £1.5m in UK and US over Libor

Tim Wallace
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BROKERAGE RP Martin was yesterday hit with fines from both sides of the Atlantic after regulators found some staff had colluded with bank traders to try to fiddle Libor.

It was fined £630,000 in the UK by the Financial Conduct Authority. The charge would have come in at £3.6m, but the FCA feared the firm was unable to pay that much. The Commodity Futures Trading Commission in the US levied a fine of $1.5m (£893,000).

The authorities found brokers had colluded with a trader at UBS from 2007 to 2012 in a bid to manipulate the Yen Libor rate, the key interest rate benchmark based on the amount banks charge to lend to each other.

Messages between those involved show a bank trader offering tends of thousands of dollars to a broker to enter false values to manipulate the rate submitted to set Libor.

In return for boosting traders’ positions, brokers received hundreds of thousands of pounds in corrupt payments through wash trades – transactions carried out purely to boost commission and fee income, rather than any true commercial reason.

“The culture at Martins was that profit came first. Compliance was seen as a hindrance and the firm lacked the means to detect the wash trades,” said FCA enforcement head Tracey McDermott.

RP Martin said it has made changes to stop this happening again.

“Over the last 12 months the board comprehensively restructured the firm’s governance, systems and controls, and compliance procedures,” it said in a statement.