CORRECTED-Freddie Mac sues more than a dozen banks over Libor

Tue Mar 19, 2013 9:33pm EDT

(Corrects name in 5th paragraph to Federal Housing Finance Agency, from Authority)

By Karen Freifeld

NEW YORK, March 19 (Reuters) - U.S. mortgage finance company Freddie Mac is suing more than a dozen banks for losses from the alleged manipulation of the benchmark interest rate known as Libor.

Bank of America Corp, JPMorgan Chase & Co, UBS AG and Credit Suisse Group AG are among the banks named as defendants in the lawsuit.

Freddie Mac, which invested in mortgage bonds and swaps tied to U.S. dollar Libor, claims the banks colluded to rig the benchmark from 2007 to 2010, according to the complaint, which was filed March 14 in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia.

Freddie Mac sued for undetermined damages.

The inspector general of the Federal Housing Finance Agency, which oversees Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, said the two government-controlled mortgage companies may have suffered more than $3 billion in losses as a result of Libor manipulation, according to an internal memo obtained by Reuters in December.

In the memo, the watchdog urged the companies' regulator to consider legal action.

Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, UBS, Credit Suisse and other banks did not immediately respond to calls for comment or declined to comment.

More than a dozen banks have been under scrutiny by authorities in the United States, Japan and Europe over claims they altered the Libor to hide financial problems and boost profits.

Freddie Mac said it discovered the fraud and collusion when Britain's Barclays admitted in June it submitted false Libor submissions, according to the complaint. The bank agreed to pay $453 million that month to settle with British and U.S. authorities.

UBS was fined $1.5 billion in December for fiddling with interest rates, and Royal Bank of Scotland Group settled with authorities for $612 million in February.

The case is The Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation v Bank of America, U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia 13-cv-00342. (Reporting by Karen Freifeld; Editing by Richard Chang and Michael Perry)

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