Libor Probe Is Advanced and May Soon Yield Results, Almunia Says

The European Union’s antitrust chief said a probe into rigging of benchmark interest rates may bring results soon, warning that manipulating benchmarks such as Libor and oil reference prices risks “systemic damage.”

The European Commission treats the rigging allegations as “a priority” because, “if confirmed, they cause systemic damage to the economy,” EU Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia said in a speech in Madrid today.

Barclays Plc, Deutsche Bank AG, UBS AG and Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc are among banks and brokerages that have been quizzed by the EU in a probe about manipulation of lending rates that may have helped them and others generate profits from derivatives trades.

Royal Dutch Shell Plc, BP Plc, Statoil ASA and Platts, the oil-price data collector owned by McGraw Hill Financial Inc., are being investigated by Almunia’s antitrust department at the European Commission on price fixing concerns.

Almunia has previously described Libor-fixing as “quite shocking” and has warned that any fines would “not be one euro.”

Mark Carney, the next Bank of England governor, said global regulators will set up a task force with banks in a bid to repair or replace tarnished benchmarks in the wake of Libor and other rate-rigging scandals.

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