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Lloyds fined £218m for 'shocking' rate-rigging practices

STATE-BACKED Lloyds Banking Group has been fined £218 million after it admitted "shocking" rate rigging practices, including ripping off the Bank of England over its financial support scheme.

The penalties from UK and US regulators covered the manipulation of the benchmark repo rate - used to calculate fees due to the Bank for its support in the financial crisis - and the interbank lending rate Libor.

In a letter to Lloyds earlier this month, Bank of England governor Mark Carney said: "Such manipulation is highly reprehensible, clearly unlawful and may amount to criminal conduct on the part of the individuals involved."

Lloyds chairman Lord Blackwell replied: "This was truly shocking conduct, undertaken when the bank was on a lifeline of public support."

Lloyds has now paid £7.8m in compensation to the central bank after it admitted manipulating the repo rate. It said those involved in the rigging practices had left, been suspended, or were subject to disciplinary proceedings, and that it would consider "remuneration implications". This is likely to mean clawing back bonuses of those directly involved.

Lloyds becomes the seventh firm to be fined by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) for Libor-related misconduct but the regulator said the ripping off of the Bank of England was the first case of its kind. Britain's FCA fined Lloyds £105m, including £70m for its attempts to rig the Special Liquidity Scheme (SLS) - the taxpayer-backed scheme to support UK banks during the financial crisis.

The rest of the fine related to the manipulation of Libor, the benchmark interest rate used in hundreds of trillions of dollars worth of loans and transactions from derivatives to mortgages.

Libor rigging also resulted in a £62m payout to America's Commodity Futures Trading Commission and £52m to the US Department of Justice.

The FCA fine relates to the behaviour of Lloyds TSB and Halifax Bank of Scotland, part of the same wider group and at the centre of the financial crisis.

Lloyds Banking Group is still 25% owned by the taxpayer.

Tracey McDermott, the FCA's director of enforcement and financial crime, said: "Colluding to benefit the firms at the expense, ultimately, of the UK taxpayer was unacceptable."

The repo rate probe covered from April 2008 to September 2009, and involved four individuals.

The FCA said: "There was a culture on the money market desks of seeking to take a financial advantage wherever possible."

It did not find there was ­"deliberate misconduct" but found that because of poor culture, and weak systems and controls, they "failed to prevent the deliberate, reckless and frequently blatant actions".

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