17 March 2015
Following a criminal conviction for LIBOR related fraud in the United States, the FCA has banned a former trader at Rabobank from the UK financial services industry for lacking honesty and integrity.
Robson was a Rabobank money markets trader between 1990 and 2008 and for almost three years from January 2006, he was the primary JPY LIBOR submitter for the bank1. In January 2014, Robson was charged by the Department of Justice with one count of conspiracy and 13 counts of wire fraud relating to his attempts to manipulate the JPY / LIBOR benchmark rate to benefit trading positions between 2006 and 2011. According to the allegations, Robson submitted rates at a specific level requested by another trader and made a higher or lower JPY LIBOR submission consistent with the direction requested by another trader.
In August 2014, Robson pleaded guilty to the conspiracy count and so, in light of his criminal conviction for a dishonesty offence, the FCA found that Robson lacked honesty and integrity and that he was therefore not fit and proper. In coming to its decision, the FCA found that Robson engaged in a "serious and sustained course of improper conduct" and that because he "understood the … definition of LIBOR and the factors that were proper for him to take into account when making JPY LIBOR submissions", his actions were dishonest because he acted in a way that he knew was not permitted under the LIBOR definition.
A link to the Final Notice can be found here.
The FCA trumpets this as its first public action against a trader for manipulating LIBOR submissions. It should be borne in mind of course that there have been the fines and bans for senior individuals for Libor compliance failures, and also that there have been 14 Warning Notices issued to individuals for misconduct relating to interest rate benchmarks.
The finding itself is not entirely surprising in light of Robson's plea. In addition, it represents a further example of the FCA relying on an individual's conduct in other proceedings to make a finding as to their fitness and propriety.
Georgina Philippou, acting director of enforcement and market oversight at the FCA, said: "No excuse can be made for Mr Robson's behaviour, which was particularly serious. He was the primary submitter of Yen LIBOR at Rabobank for a number of years and experienced in the market. He knew what he was doing was wrong. This ban reinforces our expectation that individuals and firms take responsibility for ensuring market integrity and reminds them of the consequences if they fall short of our standards".
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