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[WASHINGTON] British financial giant Barclays Bank PLC on Monday reached a US$100 million settlement with 44 US states and the District of Columbia over interest rate manipulation in the financial crisis era.
The settlement, announced by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, accuses the bank of manipulating benchmark interest rates, including the London Interbank Offered Rate, to hide financial problems and benefit traders' positions.
"As a result of Barclays' misconduct, government entities and not-for-profits were defrauded of funds that otherwise could have been used to benefit the people of New York," Mr Schneiderman said in a statement.
British and US authorities have since 2012 taken action against a series of banks, including Barclays, UBS and Deutsche Bank, over alleged rate manipulation.
Barclays in 2012 pleaded guilty to rate manipulation and agreed to pay US$453 million to British and US authorities.
But Monday's is the first settlement with US states by a bank on the panel that sets the US dollar Libor rates, the statement said, adding that investigations were ongoing.
As part of a 16-member panel of banks making submissions to help set daily Libor rates, Barclays manipulated submissions between 2005 and 2009 to avoid the appearance that it paid more than its competitors to borrow or to favour traders' positions, according to Mr Schneiderman's office.
Barclays did not receive a financial bailout during the financial crisis but did take advantage of so-called "discount window" lending by the US Federal Reserve.
In a statement, Barclays said it was pleased to put state Libor investigations behind it.
"We believe this settlement is in the best interests of our shareholders and clients, and allows us to continue to focus on the future and serve our clients."
Most of Monday's settlement will be used to compensate other organisations holding investment contracts with Barclays who may have been victimised, according to Mr Schneiderman's office.
The rest will cover the costs of the investigation and administration. The investigation was led by the attorneys general offices in New York and Connecticut.
"There has to be one set of rules for everyone, no matter how rich or how powerful, and that includes big banks and other financial institutions that engage in fraud or impair the fair functioning of financial markets," Mr Schneiderman was quoted as saying.
Barclays last month posted first-half net profits of £1.1 billion (S$1.95 billion), down 31 per cent over the same period last year.