NEW YORK (Reuters) - Barclays Plc has agreed to pay nearly $20 million to resolve a U.S. class action lawsuit accusing the British bank of manipulating the Libor benchmark interest rate, according to court papers filed Wednesday.
The proposed deal, disclosed in court papers filed in federal court in New York, is the first such settlement of private litigation in the United States against various banks accused of manipulating the London interbank offered rate.
The deal, which must be approved by a federal judge, follows earlier agreements by Barclays in 2012 to pay $453 million to settle investigations by U.S. and British authorities related to Libor.
As part of the $19.98 million settlement, on behalf of futures contract traders, Barclays has agreed to cooperate with the plaintiffs, who hope documents and information the bank provides will aid in resolving claims against other banks.
Christopher Lovell, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, said the deal “is a good ice breaker settlement for the class and will provide helpful cooperation in continuing to prosecute the claims against the remaining defendants.”
Kerrie Cohen, spokeswoman for Barclays, said in a statement that the bank was “pleased to have reached an agreement to settle in this matter - it is a step forward in resolving another legacy issue.”
Libor, which is calculated based on submissions from 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 British authorities have charged several individuals and extracted billions of dollars in fines from banks stemming from alleged manipulation of Libor and in related rates.
Barclays class-action settlement covers anyone who transacted in Libor-based Eurodollar futures contracts or options on exchanges such as the Chicago Mercantile Exchange between Jan. 1, 2005, and May 31, 2010.
It stems from a series of lawsuits filed beginning in 2011 and consolidated before U.S. District Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald.
Other banks that have faced private lawsuits before Buchwald over Libor include Bank of America Corp, JPMorgan Chase & Co, Citigroup Inc and Credit Suisse Group AG, among others.
Buchwald gave the banks a significant win in March 2013 when she dismissed a “substantial portion” of claims facing them.
Buchwald at that time denied a motion to dismiss commodity manipulation claims on Eurodollar futures and options during two periods, though in June 2014 she tossed claims arising one of those periods, from May 2008 to April 2009.
The cases are In Re: Libor-Based Financial Instruments Antitrust Litigation, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, No. 11-md-2262.
Reporting by Nate Raymond in New York; Editing by Meredith Mazzilli and Leslie Adler