Banks Face Suits as States Weigh Libor Losses

The scandal over global interest rates has state officials like Janet Cowell of North Carolina working intensely behind the scenes to build a case for suing the nation’s largest banks.

Ms. Cowell, the state’s elected treasurer, and several of her staff members have spent the summer combing through the state’s investments trying to determine how much the state may have lost because of suspected manipulation of the London interbank offered rate, or Libor, which is used as a benchmark for trillions of dollars of financial contracts around the world.

“We think this could be as big as the mortgage crisis settlement, that this could be a really high impact situation and that we should be aggressive on this,” Ms. Cowell said, referring to the $25 billion settlement that the nation’s biggest banks entered with state attorneys general.

The activity provides a glimpse at how widely the Libor scandal has spread through the financial world, and how much damage may still be in store for the banks accused of manipulating Libor. Her work also suggests just how difficult it is, and how long it may take, to get to the bottom of the losses.

The attorneys general in Maryland, Massachusetts, New York and Connecticut have all been examining how much their states may have lost as a result of a lowered Libor. A spokeswoman for Connecticut’s attorney general, George C. Jepsen, said that the state’s work with New York’s attorney general, Eric T. Schneiderman, “has broadened significantly over the last few weeks and we are now coordinating with a much larger group of attorneys general.”

Read on.

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