Italian police seize Barclays documents in rates probe
By Antonella Ciancio and Edward Taylor
MILAN/FRANKFURT | Tue Jul 31, 2012 4:42pm BST
(Reuters) - Italian police have searched the Milan offices of Barclays as part of widening international investigations into alleged rigging of global interest rates, judicial sources and consumer groups said on Tuesday.
Barclays has been fined over $450 million by U.S. and British authorities for manipulating Libor benchmark rates, which are used to set prices for trillions of dollars of financial products across the globe. Its chief executive Bob Diamond was forced to quit over the scandal.
More than a dozen lenders, including UBS and Deutsche Bank, are being probed worldwide by investigators looking at whether Libor, which is priced in pounds, and other global benchmark rates were rigged.
The search at Barclays' Milan offices took place last Friday and was ordered by prosecutors in the southern city of Trani who earlier this month opened a criminal probe over suspected aggravated fraud and market manipulation, the sources said.
The Italian probe - one of a series of investigations in Europe, the United States and Japan - is focusing on Euribor, Libor's counterpart in euros and the base for mortgage rates in the country. The probe was started following complaints filed by consumer groups Adusbef and Federconsumatori.
The two groups said in a joint statement that documents, computer material and emails were seized at Barclays Milan offices "with the aim of looking for evidence that Barclays also manipulated Euribor, as it did with Libor, with a negative impact on mortgage rates paid by Italians."
Barclays declined to comment.