The enormous Libor scandal may have found the face of its victims.
Annie Bell Adams, a pensioner who lost her home to foreclosure, and four other lead plaintiffs have filed a class-action lawsuit against 12 banks for allegedly raising the interest rates of adjustable-rate mortgages through their manipulation of a key global interest rate known as Libor, the Financial Times reported on Monday.
If true, the allegations have identified the most tangible negative effect of Libor manipulation so far, the human consequences of which have been hard to pin down. The city of Baltimore has sued banks over Libor manipulation, and other struggling U.S. cities are looking into doing so. They claim that they lost a significant amount of money as a result of Libor manipulation.
The lawsuit, filed in federal court, is the first by homeowners against banks over the Libor scandal, according to Reuters. The 12 banks being sued in "Adams et al. v. Bank of America Corp." include Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, UBS, Barclays, and Citigroup, Bloomberg reports.
At least 90,000 U.S. mortgages have adjustable interest rates indexed to Libor, according to the Financial Times. John Sharbrough, an Alabama-based lawyer representing the case, told the Financial Times that it is possible that up to 100,000 people will join the class-action lawsuit.
The banks that rigged the Libor rate manipulated it both up and down -- up to make more money and down to appear more financially healthy. Barclays agreed to pay more than $450 million in June to settle charges that it manipulated Libor.