No evidence of detriment to MMR from Libor fixing
Barclays’ systemic manipulation of the inter-bank lending rate is unlikely to have affected the UK mortgage market, but it will have eroded consumer trust in banks, Robert Sinclair has said.
The director of the Association of Mortgage Intermediaries said while the Libor rate-rigging would have had a massive effect on banks’ bottom lines, the effect on consumers would have been miniscule and should not affect regulation such as the FSA’s mortgage market review.
He said: “The levels of movement in the Libor rate that might have been engineered would be relatively minor, but because of the amounts involved, at a capital market level, it would have had significant effect on banks’ trading books.
“However, this means the material effect on consumers would be relatively small and the difference in mortgage rates people would have paid would be miniscule. What has changed is the trust in the integrity of the organisations and their ability to do the right thing.”
Mr Sinclair said the largest Libor lenders were in the secondary mortgage market, adding: “This won’t affect the MMR.”
As a result, Mr Sinclair said it was possible that the Vickers’ proposed ringfencing of retail banking from investment banking would be implemented earlier than planned, which would make retail lending more expensive, leading to higher mortgage rates five years from now.
An FSA spokesman said: “There was no evidence that rates were actually affected. There was attempted manipulation but no evidence they succeeded and it was in dollar Libor, not sterling.”
A spokesman for the Council of Mortgage Lenders said it was too early to tell whether consumers had suffered any detriment to their mortgages as a result of the debacle.
She said: “It’s still early days and we don’t have that much information.
“However, there weren’t many Libor-linked mortgages around that were affected directly, although we don’t know exactly how many. For those that were around, it is not particularly clear but there isn’t evidence of detriment as yet.”
Barclays’ chief executive Bob Diamond resigned this week over mounting pressure to step down, with further high-profile resignations expected.
His resignation came after the Serious Fraud Office said it was “considering whether it is both appropriate and possible to bring criminal prosecutions”.
The SFO added: “The issues are complex but we hope to come to a conclusion within a month. The SFO is aware of investigations in other jurisdictions and is working with the relevant authorities.”
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