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Libor Investigation Reveals Widespread Corruption

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(photo: Carl Court/AFP)

As details of the investigation into the Libor rate rigging scandal are known, a picture of systemic corruption among the biggest banks is emerging.

While Barclays is the only bank to have admitted wrongdoing at this time, the New York Times reports that "the multiyear investigation has ensnared more than 10 big banks in the United States and abroad."

The Times adds: "Given the scope of the problems and the number of institutions involved, the rate-rigging investigation could provide a signature moment to hold big banks accountable for their activities during the financial crisis."

'It’s hard to imagine a bigger case than Libor,' said one of the government officials involved in the case."

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That comment is echoed by Andrew Lo, a professor of finance at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who said, "This dwarfs by orders of magnitude any financial scams in the history of markets."

The Independent also reports on the systemic problem, writing that the British Financial Services Authority inquiry into the rate rigging scandal "suggests that there was a culture of rate-rigging in the investment banking division that Mr Diamond ran during the focus of the investigation, from 2005 to 2009, which might have been the cause of Libor-fixing spreading elsewhere.

A source close to the Treasury Select Committee said: 'One of the questions that still needs to be answered is if this was some sort of virus that was spreading through the system from Barclays when people left to go elsewhere, or was it just a dealing room where people were using their old contacts, be it at Barclays or anywhere else?'"

Blogging on Firedoglake, Scarecrow notes that the real victims of the scandal got left in the dark for years. "The thing that has apparently shocked so many people in the last few weeks since the story broke on Barclays’ bid rigging settlement with US and UK regulators is that no one seems to have warned the victims that the entire structure for setting interest rates on consumer loans, mortgages, municipal bonds, insurance swaps and everything else in the economy — literally trillions of dollars in transactions — was rigged. It’s 2012, and they (the victims) just found out, so now there are hundreds of entities lining up to sue the world's largest banksters for one the largest frauds in history."

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