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UBS Fine - Banks Need to Clean Up Reputations In 2013

Things can’t get much worse for UBS. Weeks after it was rocked by an FSA fine for almost £30 million for failure to detect the trading of a fraudulent banker, the Swiss bank was last week slammed with an almighty fine of almost £1 billion for manipulating Libor rates. The fine is the second largest fine ever levied on a bank and is more than three times the fine Barclays received in the summer for its attempt to rig Libor. The payment includes a £160 million payment to the FSA, the largest penalty ever imposed by the British regulator.

Communication between errant traders was found to come from all over the world, with at least 45 people aware of the rigging and breaches that occurred over a five year period between January 2005 and December 2010. The FSA said it had detected at least 2000 written requests and an unquantifiable number of spoken requests to manipulate the inter-bank benchmark rate. UBS also made fraudulent payments to brokers as rewards for manipulation of Libor.

The outcry about Libor manipulation has been deafening, with many pointing out that the banks are out of control and this should be further evidence to support the breaking up of bulge bracket banks.

You can guarantee that the UBS shareholders will be up in arms at the Swiss bank, furious that the bank has been involved in yet another maelstrom and its reputation tarnished. And the fine – the second largest ever levied – will possibly affect the bank’s profit margin and therefore the shareholder dividend.

There is no doubt that the appropriate checks and measures should have been in place at UBS. Systems that flag up this type of errant behaviour should be part and parcel of any bank’s corporate governance strategy and systems. And the fact that it wasn’t begs the question how embedded knowledge of Libor manipulation was within the organisation. In any case, the fact that a culture prevailed which allowed this to happen is seriously detrimental to UBS’s reputation.

The banks have a massive reputational clear up operation to do in 2013. Winning stakeholder trust back should be top of their list and they will do that partly through behaving correctly and policing their organisations more effectively.

Adam Ripley, Chairman, Certeco

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Comments: (1)

Neil Crammond
Neil Crammond - DIVENTO FINANCIALS - London 02 January, 2013, 13:13Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

The STIR exchanges were warned of these abuses but decreed that nothing was illegal !We screamed of manipulation but were ignored and told to accept our losses ; perhaps our exchanges need a massive clear up too ?

FSA fine to  UBS  ; £160 million is more that their entire 2013 budget  which again shows that our regulators are fighting  wars with water pistols ; then again most of the traders are aware of this .