DOJ obtains $1 Billion settlement from Bank admitting to $90 million in bribes to Gaddafi-era libyan officials and LIBOR manipulation

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Société Générale S.A. (Société Générale), a global financial services institution Société Générale S.A. (Société Générale), and its wholly-owned subsidiary, here have agreed to pay a combined total penalty of more than $860 million to settle charges by U.S. authorities with criminal authorities concerning a multi-year scheme to pay bribes to officials in Libya and also manipulation of the London InterBank Offered Rate (LIBOR), one of the world’s leading benchmark interest rates.  SGA Société Générale Acceptance N.V. will plead guilty in the Eastern District of New York in connection with the resolution of the foreign bribery case.  Together with approximately $475 million in regulatory penalties and disgorgement that Société Générale has agreed to pay to the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) in connection with the LIBOR scheme, the total penalties to be paid by the bank exceed $1 billion.

According to the companies’ admissions, Société Générale paid bribes through a Libyan “broker” in connection with 14 investments made by Libyan state-owned financial institutions.  For each transaction, Société Générale paid the Libyan broker a commission of between one and a half and three percent of the nominal amount of the investments made by the Libyan state institutions.  In total, Société Générale paid the Libyan Intermediary over $90 million, portions of which the Libyan broker paid to high-level Libyan officials in order to secure the investments from various Libyan state institutions for Société Générale.  As a result of the corrupt scheme, Société Générale obtained 13 investments and one restructuring from the Libyan state institutions worth a total of approximately $3.66 billion, and earned profits of approximately $523 million.

Also ass admitted by the company, between May 2010 and at least October 2011, Société Générale promulgated falsely deflated U.S. Dollar (USD) LIBOR submissions to make it look as though Société Générale was able to borrow money at more favorable interest rates than it was actually able to do.  This downward manipulation allowed Société Générale to create the appearance that it was stronger and more creditworthy than it was. The USD LIBOR manipulation scheme was ordered by senior executives of Société Générale, who tasked the managers of the company’s Treasury Department with overseeing the execution of the deflation effort.  Several employees within Société Générale’s Treasury Department ensured that the company’s USD LIBOR submissions were altered in accordance with the deflation directive.  Société Générale’s misconduct frequently altered the daily rate at which USD LIBOR was set, which affected financial products worldwide, including interest rate swaps, futures contracts and other derivative financial products.

Also, in 2006, certain Société Générale employees in London and Tokyo worked together to manipulate Société Générale’s Japan Yen (JPY) LIBOR submissions.  These employees endeavored to manipulate JPY LIBOR in order to benefit the trading positions of a Société Générale employee.  This employee had numerous deals tied to JPY LIBOR, and manipulation of JPY LIBOR improved the profitability of the employee’s trading book.