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LIBOR Investigation: Justice Department Building Criminal Cases Against Barclays, Others

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WASHINGTON, July 14 (Reuters) - The U.S. Justice Department is building criminal cases against several financial institutions and their employees related to the manipulation of interest rates, The New York Times reported on Saturday.

Citing government officials close to the case who spoke on condition of anonymity, the Times said traders at Barclays Plc were among the individuals against whom Justice was building cases. Authorities expect to file charges against at least one bank later this year, the newspaper reported.

Investigators in Washington and London last month struck a $450 million settlement with Barclays in a rate-rigging case, but the deal does not shield Barclays employees from criminal prosecution. The criminal and civil investigations have focused on how banks set the London interbank offered rate, or Libor.

Libor is used to determine borrowing casts for trillions of dollars in financial products, including mortgages, credit cards and student loans. The Times said cities, states and municipalities in the United States were also trying to determine whether they suffered loses due to rate manipulation and some had filed suit.

With the prospect of possible criminal charges, several financial institutions, including at least two European firms, are scrambling to arrange deals with the government, the Times reported, citing lawyers close to the case.

Given the broad scope of the Libor case and the number of institutions thought to be involved, the investigations could provide authorities with a "signature moment" to hold big banks accountable for misdeeds during the financial crisis, which hit global markets from late 2007, the newspaper said.

Still, the investigation is unusually complex, could continue for years and end in settlements rather than indictments, the Times said, citing officials close to the case.

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