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Rate scandal rocks UBS yet again

Dec 23 2012 16:01 Sapa

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Geneva - Swiss banking giant UBS, which was slapped with $1.5bn in fines for manipulating global interest rates, also tampered with Swiss franc interest rates for more than a decade, a Swiss newspaper reported Sunday.

"The bank did not only contribute to manipulating global interest rates on the dollar, the British pound and the yen, but... also systematically played with interest rates on the Swiss franc," Le Matin reported.

Quoting findings in a US justice department probe, the paper said there was evidence that UBS traders had manipulated the rates from 2001.

UBS was hit with the second-largest banking fine ever last week by US, British and Swiss authorities after they revealed evidence of massive misconduct in the setting of the Libor rate, a global reference that affects products from student loans to mortgages.

The US also filed federal charges of felony fraud against UBS Securities Japan, where it estimated that the bank raked in hundreds of millions of dollars over three years with slight rate adjustments.

"The principle was the same in Switzerland, where the division in charge of the UBS treasury each day gave indications of what the ideal rates would be" for the bank's business, Le Matin said, adding such rates not only impact UBS's bottom line but also the entire Swiss economy.

The paper criticised Switzerland's financial regulator Finma for not looking further back than 2007 when it calculated UBS's misdeeds in Switzerland, and also lambasted the Swiss national bank for not releasing numbers on how much the bank had cost the Swiss economy.

The Swiss portion of the bank's massive fine amounted to just ?59m ($64m).

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