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Former traders at Lloyds Banking Group have been called in for questioning by the UK’s Serious Fraud Office as part of its longstanding criminal probe into alleged Libor manipulation.
The SFO has called the former traders in for interviews under caution, which is when potential suspects are read their rights and anything individuals say can be used as evidence against them and distinct from witness interviews, according to a person familiar with the case.
The move represents an acceleration of the SFO’s investigation into Lloyds, which is at least three years old. Lloyds paid £218m in 2014 to settle allegations of benchmark rigging. That included, uniquely, one used to set the fees on a government-backed funding scheme, the Bank of England’s Special Liquidity Scheme, used at the onset of the financial crisis.
Overall 22 employees of Lloyds and HBoS, which it took over in 2008, were involved in or aware of the rigging of rates, the bank said at the time.
The SFO has been dusting off its Libor files recently. It has opened a third probe into the alleged low-balling of Libor by Barclays during the crisis and has interviewed under caution current and former managers at the bank.
The SFO and Lloyds declined to comment. Lloyds disclosed its ongoing SFO investigation as part of its full-year results last week, in which the bank — now less than 5 per cent owned by the taxpayer — more than doubled its annual pre-tax profits.
Bloomberg News previously reported the former traders’ questioning.