LONDON — The system at the center of the rate-rigging scandal will be overhauled as regulators respond to public anger over the manipulation of the London interbank offered rate, or Libor.
Martin Wheatley, the British regulator in charge of overhauling the rate-setting process, outlined plans Friday that could lead to wholesale changes to Libor, which is used as a benchmark rate for more than $360 trillion of financial products, including mortgages and loans.
The reforms may lead to the scrapping of the current system, which is overseen by the British Bankers’ Association, a trade body, and making it a criminal offense to manipulate benchmark rates.
The tough words from British authorities come after one of the country’s biggest banks, Barclays, agreed to a $450 million settlement with US and British officials after some of its traders and senior executives were found to have manipulated the rate for financial gain.
The review will offer recommendations in late September about how the rate could be changed. Wheatley said the inquiry was likely to lead to major changes to Libor, including the use of actual trading data to set the daily benchmark rate.
The review will center on potential criminal sanctions against individuals that manipulate the rate. US and British authorities are currently considering the prosecution of traders implicated in the scandal, though European officials want to write new legislation to make the manipulation of Libor and other benchmark rates a criminal offense.
The overhaul of Libor also will focus on increasing governance of the rate-setting process, after authorities found deficiencies in how the system was overseen.