FRANKFURT, Jan 11 (Reuters) - Germany’s financial regulator will question Deutsche Bank AG’s leaders in coming weeks as part of a probe into the manipulation of the Libor rate, two sources familiar with the investigation said.
Deutsche Bank Chairman Paul Achleitner and Co-Chief Executives Anshu Jain and Juergen Fitschen are among those due to be questioned by Bafin, the sources said on Friday.
“The questioning of top managers is standard procedure in a special probe,” one of the sources said.
Bafin has been investigating for months what role Germany’s flagship lender may have played in an international scandal involving how the London Interbank Offered Rate (Libor) was set.
Libor, compiled from estimates by large banks of how much they expect to pay to borrow from each other, is used as a reference to set interest rates on trillions of dollars worth of contracts around the world.
Deutsche Bank has said it is cooperating with authorities in the investigation. An internal enquiry by the lender found no current or former management board members were inappropriately involved.
Before becoming Co-CEO, Jain was in charge of the investment banking division, where Libor rates were set.
Deutsche declined comment.
Sources familiar with the matter had told Reuters on Thursday that Bafin expects to complete its investigation by the end of March.
Bafin is focusing on potential structural weaknesses in Deutsche’s internal controls, as well as possible wrongdoing by individual Libor traders.
Financial daily Handelsblatt on Friday cited sources familiar with the investigation as saying the bank had for too long underestimated the risk of Libor manipulation, and should have started its internal probe and adjusted processes much earlier.
Deutsche Bank could face a fine if that view is confirmed, the paper said.
Bafin declined to comment.
Regulators in Europe, Japan and the United States have been examining more than a dozen big banks over suspected rigging of Libor.
British lender Barclays agreed to pay a fine of more than $450 million, and Swiss bank UBS agreed to pay $1.5 billion to regulators over its submissions of interbank rates.
Deutsche Bank has viewed any manipulation to be the work of individuals who have already been suspended by the bank, bank sources have told Reuters.
As the credit crisis intensified from 2006 through 2008, suspicions grew that Libor no longer reflected the true cost banks were paying for funds. Authorities have been examining whether traders tried to influence the rate to benefit their own positions.
The daily Libor poll asks banks at what rate they think they will be able to borrow money from each other in 10 major currencies and for 15 borrowing periods ranging from overnight loans to 12 months.
Thomson Reuters, parent company of Reuters, has been calculating and distributing Libor rates for Libor’s sponsor, the British Bankers’ Association, since 2005.