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UK agency opens criminal probe of bank rate fixing

Associated Press Modified: July 6, 2012 at 4:31 pm •  Published: July 6, 2012

LONDON (AP) — Britain's Serious Fraud Office said Friday that it has formally opened a criminal investigation of the manipulation of a key market interest rate that has shaken Barclays.

The bank was fined $435 million last week by U.S. and British agencies for making false reports of its borrowing costs between 2005 and 2009, specifically of the London interbank offered rate, or LIBOR, which influences the costs of a range of financial instruments including home mortgages.

Regulators are known to be looking into similar allegations against other banks in Britain and elsewhere, but Barclays is the only bank so far to have been publicly shamed. The Serious Fraud Office announcement did not mention Barclays by name but referred to "the LIBOR matter."

The agency said it was uncertain whether the investigation would result in charges.

Barclays' share price closed 2 percent lower at 164.75 pence following the announcement.

This week, Bob Diamond resigned as chief executive of the bank and Chairman Marcus Agius announced his intention to leave as soon a replacement has been appointed.

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