Libor criminal probe in U.K. starts as U.S. readies indictments

U.K. still considering case merits

‘Pent-Up Anger’

“A lot of what led to the financial crisis was reckless behavior that might not have been criminal,” Perino said. “There is this remaining pent-up anger that a different set of rules seems to apply to banks and Wall Street.”

Barclays is assisting the investigation into other firms and individuals and was the first to provide “extensive and meaningful cooperation,” the Justice Department said.

The SFO is likely to hire outside investigators to assist with the case if they decide it’s likely they’ll be able to bring charges, Jones said. They may ask the FSA for two or three secondees to help them, and the Treasury may provide more than 3 million pounds.

The case is currently being handled by division heads Satnam Tumani and Jane de Lozey, and the agency has hired the senior barrister Mukul Chawla to be their lead external lawyer on the investigation.

“Has the Serious Fraud Office got the message loud and clear that if it is possible to get a charge on these people, the public want that?” Andrew Tyrie, the chair of the U.K. Parliament’s Treasury Select Committee, asked the FSA’s McDermott at the hearing on the Libor case.

Lack of Evidence

The SFO was criticized under its previous director, Richard Alderman, for taking on high-profile investigations, including ones into American International Group Inc.’s Financial Products unit and convicted swindler Bernard Madoff’s London operations, only to close them later without charges, citing a lack of evidence. The agency has also faced a shrinking budget, a fight with the Home Office to save it from dissolution, and a staff exodus prior to Green’s arrival.

“They don’t have a glorious history in terms of getting on top of these things,” Wolverhampton’s Haynes said. “It could be partly that it falls into the cracks between the SFO and the FSA, and doesn’t clearly land on anyone’s lap.”

Bloomberg News

--Editors: Christopher Scinta, Mary Romano

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