Clifford Chance advises under-fire Barclays on Libor probe

Clifford Chance has won a role advising Barclays Bank on its investigation into claims that it fixed the London interbank offered rate (Libor) to boost its trading position.

The firm has advised alongside US firm Sullivan & Cromwell on Barclays’ internal investigation into its Libor submissions, with the news following the bank’s record £290m fine from the FSA, the US Commodity Futures Trading Commission and the US Department of Justice late last month.

Barclays confirmed in a memo to the Treasury Select Committee last week that it had conducted an “exhaustive” probe into the matter over more than three years “supported by external counsel”.

The UK bank also consulted Sullivan & Cromwell criminal defence and investigations partner Steven Peikin, litigation chief David Braff, litigation partner Jeffrey Scott and special counsel Matthew Fitzwater (28 June 2012).

A Barclays spokesperson declined to comment on the extent of the firms’ roles on this investigation or the identity of the magic circle firm’s team advising the under-fire bank. Clifford Chance declined to comment.

Media attention on Barclays comes amid investigations by regulators globally into whether certain banks manipulated Libor, the primary benchmark for short-term interest rates, and other key lending rates to improve their position when trading derivatives.

Clifford Chance advised the British Bankers’ Association (BBA) four years ago on its review of how Libor was governed, with London derivatives, capital markets and financial markets partner Habib Motani leading the team (18 August 2008).

The BBA currently oversees the setting of Libor, although one of the changes in the wake of the latest scandal could see the Government take on the responsibility of regulating the process.