Libor Fixing Scandal: SFO Seeks Extra £19m for Fraud Investigations
Libor Fixing Scandal: SFO Seeks Extra £19m for Fraud Investigations Reuters

Britain's Serious Fraud Office is seeking another £19m from the government to help go towards a range of complex investigations into the country's biggest banks manipulating one of the world's most important interbank lending rates, Libor.

The UK government's Solicitor General, Oliver Heald, also said in a statement that the SFO needs the extra cash to investigate inquiries made about the money Barclays raised through Qatar and, separately into Rolls Royce corruption allegations.

Heald, said "the SFO has incurred higher than anticipated expenditure and a reserve claim has been agreed by HM Treasury as part of the supplementary estimate 2013-14 process."

The SFO only has an annual budget of £28m (€34m, $46m) and Heald added that it needs an £11m advance, from the £19m requested, immediately.

"This funding is 'blockbuster' funding for the course of our investigation and prosecution work in the remainder of this financial year," said the SFO in a statement to Reuters.

Fraud Probes

In December 2013, Rolls-Royce has revealed that the SFO is investigating the aerospace and defence giant over allegations of bribery and corruption across a number of emerging markets.

According to a statement by Rolls-Royce, the probe centres on possible bribery and corruption in China, Indonesia and other markets from December 2012.

In July 2013, the UK Treasury said it would grant the SFO an extra £2m to help it investigate Barclays' fundraising activities during the onset of the financial crisis after it avoided a state bailout and instead received cash from Qatar authorities.

On 15 August 2012, the Director of the SFO confirmed that the office had formally opened an investigation "into certain commercial arrangements between Barclays Bank and Qatar Holdings in 2008."

After the onset of the credit crisis, Barclays raised £4.5bn (€5.2bn, $6.9bn) in new shares in June 2008 and then a further £7bn in November that year.

However, the SFO investigation centres around the details of the deal Barclays struck with the sovereign wealth fund, in "an agreement for provision of advisory services" by Qatar to Barclays in the Middle East.

Libor Fixing

Barclays was the first to settle with UK and US authorities in June 2012 for £290m.

Nearly six months later UBS agreed a record $1.5bn fine with US, UK and Swiss authorities and also admitted to one count of wire fraud relating to rigging rates in Yen.

In February 2013, RBS became the third major bank to settle with the CFTC, DoJ and FSA for £390m relating to civil and criminal charges.

RBS subsidary, RBS Securities Japan Limited, also pleaded guilty to one criminal charge of wire fraud.

In September 2013, the US Commodity Futures Trading Commission and Britain's Financial Conduct Authority fined the world's largest interdealer brokerage Icap for its role in the manipulation of the interbank lending rate Libor.

Icap will pay £14m to the FCA and £41m to the CFTC after a significant number of brokers, including two managers, attempted to rig rates between October 2006 and November 2010.

The SFO has since launched probes into individual traders and has taken three individuals to court.