British lawmaker questions BofA executive's Libor testimony

Sept. 24, 2013 at 1:06 PM
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LONDON, Sept. 24 (UPI) -- A British lawmaker said a Bank of America executive was less than forthright in his testimony regarding manipulation of a critical benchmark lending rate.

In January, Mark Garnier, a member of Parliament who sat on a banking committee that was investigating manipulation of the Libor lending rate, asked former UBS executive Alex Wilmot-Sitwell about the departure of UBS trader Tom Hayes, who left the Swiss bank to take a job at Citigroup.

Hayes is a key player in the Libor manipulation scandal that has forced several large banks to pay hundreds of millions of dollars to settle allegations brought by regulators. In December, UBS put to rest charges of Libor manipulation with U.S. and British regulators with a $1.5 billion settlement.

The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday that an in-house email at UBS shows Wilmot-Sitwell was asked to help charm Hayes into staying with UBS. In addition, two people have said they recall Wilmot-Sitwell calling Hayes, the Journal said.

But Wilmot-Sitwell in January told the British committee that he did not recall the event, nor the trader.

"As I said to the [Parliamentary] Banking Commission, I have never met Mr. Hayes and I do not recall him leaving. I have no recollection of the email whatsoever," Wilmot-Sitwell said in a statement provided by a Bank of American spokesman on Tuesday, the Journal said.

Hayes has not entered a plea with British or U.S. authorities, but an executive-level email at UBS refers to his "strong connections with Libor setters in London."

Hayes, however, said after he was charged with Libor manipulation that "this goes much higher than me."

Garnier now says that Wilmot-Sitwell's testimony appears questionable.

"Clearly Wilmot-Sitwell has got other questions to answer. For him to be part of this [email chain] and say he doesn't remember sounds pretty fanciful," Garnier said.

At UBS, at the time the email about charming Hayes was circulated, Wilmot-Sitwell was based in Hong Kong and had recently been named the co-head of UBS's global investment bank.

Currently, he is the president of Bank of America Merrill Lynch for Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

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