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UK fraud agency charges three ex-Barclays bankers over Libor

A branch of Barclays bank is seen in London October 30, 2013. REUTERS/Toby Melville
A branch of Barclays bank is seen in London October 30, 2013. REUTERS/Toby Melville

By Steve Slater

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain's fraud agency started criminal proceedings against three former bankers at Britain's Barclays Plc on Monday for the alleged manipulation of Libor interest rates.

The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) said it has charged Peter Charles Johnson, Jonathan James Mathew and Stylianos Contogoulas with conspiracy to defraud between June 2005 and August 2007.

The SFO last year brought charges against three former employees of Swiss bank UBS and UK brokerage RP Martin, the first people to face trial in connection with a global investigation into a rate-rigging scandal that sparked intense criticism of standards across the industry.

Barclays paid $450 million in July 2012 to settle allegations from U.S. and UK regulators that it had manipulated Libor interest rates, prompting the resignations of its chairman and chief executive and a barrage of criticism about standards and culture.

The bank declined to comment on Monday.

UBS, Royal Bank of Scotland and Rabobank have since paid bigger settlements for alleged Libor manipulation, and more banks are expected to face fines as regulators in the United States and Britain continue to investigate.

The SFO's investigation into Libor began in July 2012 and it said it continues to work with Britain's Financial Conduct Authority and the U.S. Department of Justice on the case.

It said the former Barclays staff would appear at Westminster Magistrates' Court at a future date.

The SFO is under pressure after a series of high-profile setbacks, and its boss David Green has staked his reputation on the success of high-profile investigations such as Libor.

It brought charges in relation to alleged Libor rigging against Tom Hayes, a former trader at UBS and Citigroup, last June and started proceedings against Terry Farr and James Gilmour, former brokers at RP Martin, last July.

The three men pleaded not guilty in December. Hayes' trial is expected to start in January 2015.

(Reporting by Steve Slater; Editing by Erica Billingham)

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