the li-bros

RBS Traders Found Their Libor-Fixing Scheme Pretty LOLzy

Business People Talking.
I’m running out of “shadowy men” stock photos. Photo: Ocean/Corbis

It’s been a while since we added new names to the ranks of the Li-Bros, the lovable band of goons who conspired to fix the world’s most important interest rate in exchange for bottles of Bollinger and spirited high fives. We were beginning to wonder whether the fun ended with “Done … for you, big boy,” and we should find some new group of Wall Street ne’er-do-wells to obsess over.

Luckily, Bloomberg brings us news of a whole new Libor-fixing pledge class, this time courtesy of the Royal Bank of Scotland.

This class knows how to have fun while manipulating benchmark interest rates. Especially a guy named Tan Chi Min:

“Nice Libor,” Tan said in an April 2, 2008, instant message…“Our six-month fixing moved the entire fixing, hahahah.”

RBS higher-ups, who are a bunch of killjoys, didn’t think Tan’s high-spirited Libor-fixing was so ROFLMAO-worthy, so they fired him. That’s the bad news. The good news is, thanks to Tan’s wrongful termination lawsuit, we can learn from the example of RBS’s Libor-fixing brothers.

Witness the fraternal spirit in this exchange:

What’s the call on Libor,” Jezri Mohideen, then the bank’s head of yen products in Singapore, asked Danziger in an Aug. 21, 2007, chat.

“Where would you like it, Libor that is,” Danziger asked, according to a transcript included in Tan’s filings.

“Mixed feelings, but mostly I’d like it all lower so the world starts to make a little sense,” another trader responded.

“The whole HF world will be kissing you instead of calling me if Libor move lower,” Tan said, referring to hedge funds.

OK, I will move the curve down 1 basis point, maybe more if I can,” Danziger replied.

See? That’s how a Li-Bro accommodates the group. No I in team.

The RBS Li-Bros could also be reflective — nay, philosophical — about their role in this crazy old world:

This whole process would make banks pull out of Libor fixing,” Tan said in a May 16, 2011, chat with money markets trader Andrew Smoler. “Question is what is illegal? If making money if bank fix it to suits its own books are illegal… then no point fixing it right? Cuz there will be days when we will def make money fixing it.”

Tan’s goal is proving that everyone at RBS was “hahaha”-ing the bank’s Libor submissions and getting himself a few million bones of wrongful termination cash. But even if he fails, he’s still done the Li-Bros a great service by revealing more of their ride-or-die ethos to the world, and proving once and for all that a rate-rigging bro in need is a rate-rigging bro indeed.

RBS Traders LOL at Libor-Fixing