(Adds details of case, background on probe)
By Aruna Viswanatha
WASHINGTON Aug 18 A former senior trader at
Rabobank pleaded guilty on Monday to participating in
a scheme to manipulate the yen Libor rate, becoming the second
employee of the Dutch-based lender to admit guilt in a U.S.
probe into alleged manipulation of interest rate benchmarks
Paul Robson, a British citizen who also submitted Rabobank's
rates used to calculate the Japanese Yen London InterBank
Offered Rate, conspired to manipulate the submissions to benefit
trading positions between 2006 and 2011, the U.S. Department of
Robson entered his plea before U.S. District Judge Jed
Rakoff in Manhattan to one count of a 15-count indictment he had
faced. Justin Weddle, a lawyer for Robson, did not immediately
respond to requests for comment.
Takayuki Yagami, another former senior trader at Rabobank,
in June became the first to plead guilty for his role in the
"The scope of the fraud was massive, but the scheme was
simple. By illegally influencing the Libor rates, Robson and his
co-conspirators rigged the markets to ensure that their trades
made money," Leslie Caldwell, who heads the Justice Department's
criminal division, said in a statement.
Rabobank agreed last October to pay $1 billion to resolve
U.S. and European probes into Libor manipulation. This included
a $325 million criminal penalty for the Dutch bank and a
deferred prosecution agreement with the Justice Department.
Libor, which is calculated based on submissions for a panel
of banks, underpins hundreds of trillions of dollars of
transactions, and is used to set interest rates on credit cards,
student loans and mortgages.
U.S. and European regulators have been probing whether banks
attempted to manipulate the rate to benefit their own trading
positions. Nine people, including Robson, have been charged by
the Justice Department.
Robson worked as a senior trader at Rabobank's money markets
and short-term forwards desk in London, and also served as the
bank's primary submitter for the Yen Libor calculation, the
Justice Department said.
He routinely used that position to submit rates requested by
Yagami and other traders, prosecutors said.
In 2007, for example, Yagami asked Robson by email for a
high submission for one of the rates, Robson answered, "no prob
mate let me know your level."
After Yagami made his request, according to the Justice
Department, Robson confirmed: "sure no prob... I'll probably get
a few phone calls but no worries mate... there's bigger crooks
in the market than us guys!"
(Reporting by Aruna Viswanatha, additional reporting by Nate
Raymond; Editing by Eric Walsh)