The Serious Fraud Office is to investigate whether or not it should bring criminal prosecutions in the rigging of Libor, the inter-bank lending rate.
Earlier this week, the SFO had said it was already working closely with the FSA and today its director, David Green, formally announced its intention to take matters further towards a possible prosecution.
On 2 July, the SFO confirmed: “The issues are complex and the assessment of the evidence the FSA has gathered will take a short time, but we hope to come to a conclusion within a month.”
It is already aware of similar activities in the US, saying it is “aware of investigations in other jurisdictions and [is] working with the relevant authorities”.
The Libor-fixing scandal has engulfed Barclays and forced the resignation of Barclays chief executive Bob Diamond as well as its chairman Marcus Agius. Agius has subsequently said his was just a statement of intent to resign and will stay on to help recruit a successor to Diamond.
The announcement from the SFO follows an in-depth investigation form the FSA as well as the promise from Prime Minister David Cameron to set up a parliamentary enquiry run by Andrew Tyrie, chairman of the Treasury Select Committee.
Cameron’s Chancellor, George Osborne, has already promised o beef up the SFO’s budget in readiness for its examination.
Whoever does the investigation will need to answer questions around which politicians knew about the rate-fixing as well as which other banks are involved as Barclays alone, according to experts, would not have been able to manipulate Libor to the extent that it was.