Brokers suspended in LIBOR manipulation inquiry

Section:

By Caroline Binham, Brooke Masters and Megan Murphy
Financial Times, London
Wednesday, February 8, 2012

http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/7021cdb4-527a-11e1-ae2c-00144feabdc0.html

More than a dozen traders and brokers in London and Asia have been fired, suspended, or put on leave by their employers as a multinational probe into alleged manipulation of crucial global lending rates accelerates.

Regulators have been investigating US and European banks that help set interbank lending rates in London and Tokyo since late 2010, in an intensive profile inquiry that spans three continents and involves at least nine separate enforcement agencies.

In the last few months, officials have also expanded their enquiries to both hedge funds that place big bets on movements in those rates, and the interdealer brokers that serve as go-betweens with the banks, according to people familiar with the probe.

... Dispatch continues below ...



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Prophecy Coal (TSX: PCY) Wins Positive Feasibility Study
for the 600-MW Chandgana Power Plant in Mongolia

Company Press Release
January 17, 2012

VANCOUVER, British Columbia, Canada -- Prophecy Coal Corp. (TSX: PCY, OTCQX: PRPCF, Frankfurt: 1P2) has received a positive feasibility study for the company's 600-megawatt Chandgana Mine-Mouth Power Project in central Mongolia. The report was independently prepared by Ralf Thomsen, project manager at Steag, a German firm specializing in the planning, financing, construction, and operation of highly efficient thermal power plants for fossil fuels.

The study covers technical specifications, deployment, and financial analysis of a 4x150-mw thermal power plant to be built adjacent to Prophecy's Chandgana Tal coal deposit, which contains 140 million tonnes of measured coal. Last year the power plant received a construction license and the coal deposit received a mining license. Engineering, procurement, and construction management selection and project financing discussion have begun and are expected to be concluded this year.

Construction is planned to start in April 2013, with the first 150-mw unit being commissioned in October 2015 and subsequent units to start in April 2016, October 2016, and April 2017. With proper maintenance the project will have 30 years of commercial operation.

For the complete statement from the company, including maps and charts, please visit:

http://www.prophecycoal.com/news_2011_jan17_prophecy_receives_power_plan...



Icap, the world's largest inter-dealer broker, has suspended one employee and put two more on administrative leave in the past six weeks. Icap, based in London, declined to comment beyond noting that it was "co-operating fully" with authorities and had disclosed the official requests for information late last year.

According to people familiar with the probe, traders have also been suspended, fired, or placed on leave in recent months at Deutsche Bank, JPMorgan Chase, Royal Bank of Scotland, and Citigroup. All four banks declined to comment.

Regulators are seeking to determine whether banks colluded to set the overnight lending rates known as Libor, Tibor, and Euribor, and whether traders within the banks and their clients improperly used information on what future rates would be to place profitable trades. The rates, which serve as a benchmark for $3.5 trillion worth of financial products worldwide, are set by a daily poll of a panel of banks in each region.

US and UK regulators have sought information from the three interdealer brokers that dominate the rates market -- Icap, Tullett Prebon, and RP Martin. People familiar with the matter said they were looking at information-sharing among brokers, hedge funds and banks.

An RP Martin spokesman said the firm was not under investigation and declined to comment on suspensions. A Tullett Prebon spokesman said the firm had not suspended any employees.

Earlier this week UBS said it had been granted conditional immunity from the Swiss Competition Commission relating to its submissions for certain rates. The Swiss group was granted similar immunity by the US Department of Justice last year because it is co-operating with the probe.

"Derivative traders working for a number of financial institutions might have manipulated these submissions by co-ordinating their behaviour, thereby influencing these reference rates in their favour," said a statement published by Switzerland's Competition Commission last week. "Moreover, derivative traders might have colluded to manipulate the difference between the ask price and the bid price [spread] of derivatives based on these reference rates to the detriment of their clients."

Barclays, which is already being investigated over alleged improper communications between traders and back office staff over its rates submissions, declined to comment on whether any employees have been suspended in London.

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Sona Discovers Potential High-Grade Gold Mineralization
at Blackdome in British Columbia -- 13.6g over 1.5 Meters

From a Company Press Release
November 22, 2011

VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- With its latest surface diamond drilling program at its 100-percent-owned, formerly producing Blackdome gold mine in southern British Columbia, Sona Resources Corp. has discovered a potentially high-grade gold-mineralized area, with one hole intersecting 13.6 grams of gold in 1.5 meters of core drilling.

"We intersected a promising new mineralized zone, and we feel optimistic about the assay results," says Sona's president and CEO, John P. Thompson. "We have undertaken an aggressive exploration program that has tested a number of target zones. Our discovery of this new gold-bearing structure is significant, and it represents a positive development for the company."

Sona aims to bring its permitted Blackdome mill back into production over the next year and a half, at a rate of 200 tonnes per day, with feed from the formerly producing Blackdome mine and the nearby Elizabeth gold deposit property. A positive preliminary economic assessment by Micon International Ltd., based on a gold price of $950 per ounce over eight years, has estimated a cash cost of $208 per tonne milled, or $686 per gold ounce recovered.

For the company's complete press release, please visit:

http://www.sonaresources.com/_resources/news/SONA_NR18_2011-opt.pdf