Bank of America Corp. and Barclays Plc (BARC) are among more than a dozen banks sued by the Regents of the University of California over claims they manipulated the London Interbank Offered Rate.
The university system filed an antitrust complaint in federal court in San Francisco. It accuses the banks of fraud, deceit and unjust enrichment, among other claims, and it seeks unspecified damages for either paying inflated interest rates or receiving deflated interest rates on its Libor-linked investments.
“The defendant Libor banks in this case engaged in illegal and improper conduct and engaged in a criminal conspiracy that caused harm to public entities and hundreds of millions of people around the world,” the University of California said in yesterday’s complaint.
Global regulators have fined UBS AG (UBSN), Barclays and Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc about $2.5 billion in the past year for distorting Libor and similar benchmarks. At least a dozen firms remain under investigation around the world. This month, Singapore’s monetary authority censured 20 banks for attempting to fix interest rate levels and ordered them to set aside as much as $9.6 billion.
Banks already face dozens of lawsuits by U.S. homeowners and other plaintiffs seeking to hold them responsible for alleged manipulation of the rate used as a borrowing-cost benchmark. A class-action lawsuit filed in Manhattan in October by homeowners alleges a conspiracy among financial institutions drove up the cost of mortgage loans.