Data of 27 Rabobank Staff Examined in Probe, Court Says

Twenty-seven bankers of Dutch lender Rabobank Groep had computer data such as e-mails examined by regulators during a probe into possible manipulation of benchmark interest rates, according to a Dutch court.

Rabobank froze payment of deferred awards and bonuses to the bankers until investigations into alleged manipulation of Libor and Euribor were completed, the Central Netherlands Court said in a ruling dated Aug. 9 and posted on its website. Hendrik Jan Eijpe, a spokesman for the Utrecht, Netherlands-based lender, declined to comment by phone. Dutch paper De Telegraaf reported details of the court ruling earlier today.

Rabobank is among banks being examined by regulators around the world for alleged abuses of financial benchmarks. It will pay about $1 billion to resolve complaints from the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission and the Justice Department, the U.K.’s Financial Conduct Authority and Dutch regulators, two people with knowledge of the matter said last week. A settlement is due to be announced today, Dutch broadcaster NOS said.

One of the 27 bankers, a senior dealer in liquidity and finance who wasn’t named in the court document, fought the bank’s decision to defer the payments. In the ruling, the court dismissed his request for the bank to pay 145,774 euros ($201,000) in awards over 2009 and 2010 and a bonus for 2012 with interest.

“The plaintiff didn’t deny Rabobank’s argument that he had a formal role in the rate-setting process for some Libor currencies and that he ended up on a custodian list for that reason,” the court said. “Rabobank stated this is a list with 27 Rabobank employees, whose data and/or communications, including for example e-mails, were taken in ‘custody’ at regulators’ request and form the basis of the investigations.”

Rabobank would join financial firms including Barclays Plc (BARC) and Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc that have paid a total of about $2.6 billion in penalties over accusations that traders attempted to rig the London interbank offered rate. Last December, UBS AG (UBSN) reached a $1.5 billion settlement, the largest to stem from the investigation, with authorities in the U.S., U.K. and Switzerland. Rabobank’s penalty would be the second-biggest.

To contact the reporter on this story: Maud van Gaal in Amsterdam at mvangaal@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Mariajose Vera at mvera1@bloomberg.net; Frank Connelly at fconnelly@bloomberg.net

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