German bank directors not linked to rate rigging: WSJ

FRANKFURT Sat Apr 27, 2013 10:34am EDT

The headquarters of Germany's largest business bank, Deutsche Bank, is seen as the sun sets on a freezing cold afternoon in Frankfurt January 31, 2012. REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach

The headquarters of Germany's largest business bank, Deutsche Bank, is seen as the sun sets on a freezing cold afternoon in Frankfurt January 31, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Kai Pfaffenbach

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - German financial markets watchdog Bafin has not turned up any evidence that German bank directors were involved in manipulating benchmark interest rates, a top Bafin official has told the Wall Street Journal Deutschland.

"We have no indication of any systematic criminality involving management board members up to now," said Raimund Roeseler, head of banking supervision at Bafin, which has been conducting a probe into the affair.

"Our findings so far show it was the actions of individual traders," Roeseler said in an interview made available on the online paper's Internet site.

Bafin and other regulators have been investigating whether banks sought to manipulate the London inter-bank offered rate, or Libor, and its euro zone counterpart, Euribor, which are key measures of how much banks pay to borrow from each other and are used as the basis for setting lending rates on a wide range of financial products, from mortgages to complex derivatives.

Swiss bank UBS (UBSN.VX) and Britain's Barclays (BARC.L) have already paid a total of nearly $2 billion to settle rate manipulation allegations, while Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS.L) has been fined $612 million.

Bafin has been conducting a special probe of Deutsche Bank (DBKGn.DE) in the Libor case, which has kept pressure on co-chief executives Anshu Jain and Juergen Fitschen as they steer Germany's flagship lender through a sea of legal challenges.

Sources familiar with Bafin's investigation told Reuters last month that the watchdog was focusing on "organizational flaws" at Deutsche rather than placing blame on the co-CEOs or their predecessor, Josef Ackermann.

Two sources familiar with the matter said last week that Bafin was stepping up its investigation because it had doubts about Deutsche's own internal probe.

While Bafin cannot itself impose fines, its input is expected to feed into settlement talks between Deutsche Bank and regulators in the United States and Britain.

Deutsche has suspended or dismissed seven employees involved in setting benchmark rates as part of its own investigation.

(Reporting by Jonathan Gould; Editing by Greg Mahlich)

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