US Attorney Generals Jump On The Lieborgate Bandwagon; 900,000+ Lawsuits To Follow

By Tyler Durden on 07/11/2012 21:00 -0400

The second Barclays announced its $450 million Libor settlement, it was all over – the lawyers smelled not only blood, but what may be the biggest plaintiff feeding frenzy of all time. Which is why it was only a matter of time: “State attorneys general are jumping into the widening scandal over whether banks tried to manipulate benchmark international lending rates, a move that could open a new front against the top global banks. A handful of state attorneys general said they are looking into whether they have jurisdiction over the banks, and are starting preliminary discussions to determine what kind of impact the conduct involving the Libor rate may have had in their states.”

From Reuters:

“Our office is aware of the allegations around the manipulation of the Libor, and we are working with other state agencies to determine whether Massachusetts has suffered any losses as a result,” a spokesman for Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley said. A spokesman for Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi said his office is aware of the recent settlement reached by British bank Barclays with U.S. and UK authorities and “will look at the case to the extent that our office might have any jurisdiction in the matter.”

 

A spokeswoman for the Massachusetts transportation authority, MassDOT, said the agency “is actively investigating its portfolio for the purpose of determining if it was underpaid on its bonds due to the brewing Libor situation,” as are many other issuers of debt whose rate is governed by Libor.

 

Lawyers for several states have had early discussions about whether they might pool investigative resources and launch a broader, multi-state effort, but no formal consortium has been established yet, people familiar with the discussions said. New York might be expected to lead such an effort, since most of the banks’ U.S. operations are based there. A spokesman for the New York attorney general declined comment on whether the issue is being looked at.

 

Some municipalities, including the city of Baltimore, and funds including the Frankfurt-based Metzler Investment GmbH, which manages 47 billion euros ($59 billion) in assets, have already sued more than a dozen banks, arguing they were bilked of potentially billions of dollars.

How many potential lawsuits are we talking about here? Quite a bit in fact as the FT explains:

There are at least 900,000 outstanding US home loans indexed to Libor that were originated from 2005 to 2009, the period the key lending gauge may have been rigged, investigators have said. Those mortgages carry an unpaid principal balance of $275bn, according to the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, a bank regulator.

Also, as explained here before, not only is this a legal bonanza, but it will be a political feast for the Congressional circus to earn numerous C-SPAN brownie points.

“I think the US government should be just as aggressive in getting to the bottom of this scandal as the United Kingdom has been,” said Senator Sherrod Brown, chair of the bank regulatory subcommittee on the Senate banking committee.

 

“This was not isolated to London, but affected tens of millions of investors, borrowers and taxpayers in our country as well,” Mr Brown added.

What does the above mean?

1) Starting today and going forward, there will be numerous essays, “analyses” and white papers, all of which will try to estimate (some on a paid basis) the damages and impact of the Libor manipulation that took place at least in the period under discussion 2005-2009. All of these will be absolutely wrong, as nobody has any clear idea of how the cumulative impact of the Libor rate, which may have been pushed below either lower or higher depending on how it suited a given BBA-member bank, over a period of years will have impacted hundreds of trillions in partially offsetting notional securities. Therefore, while one day it may have led to impairments, another day it would benefit the end-holder of a given interest-rate sensitive product. But they will try. And the bigger the number, the better, which leads us to…

Read the rest of the article here: Zero Hedge

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