Barclays Bank to pay $450 million to settle interest-rate probe

Barclays Bank has agreed to pay more than $450 million to settle charges it attempted to manipulate key interest rates.

The London investment bank announced settlements Wednesday with the U.S. Justice Department, the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission and the British Financial Services Authority.

Investigators found that the bank manipulated the London interbank offered rate, or LIBOR, and the euro interbank offered rate, or EURIBOR, benchmark interest rates used in the world’s financial markets.

“LIBOR and EURIBOR are critically important benchmark interest rates,” Assistant Atty. Gen. Lanny Breuer said in a statement. “Because mortgages, student loans, financial derivatives and other financial products rely on LIBOR and EURIBOR as reference rates, the manipulation of submissions used to calculate those rates can have significant negative effects on consumers and financial markets worldwide.”

Under the settlements, Barclays would pay the Justice Department a $160-million penalty and cooperate with its ongoing investigation to avoid prosecution. The bank would pay the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission $200 million, with the rest going to the British Financial Services Authority.

In a statement, Barclays Chief Executive Bob Diamond said he and other top executives would forgo bonuses this year.

“The events which gave rise to today’s resolutions relate to past actions which fell well short of the standards to which Barclays aspires in the conduct of its business,” Diamond said. “When we identified those issues, we took prompt action to fix them and cooperated extensively and proactively with the authorities. Nothing is more important to me than having a strong culture at Barclays; I am sorry that some people acted in a manner not consistent with our culture and values.”