Corruption, collusion and a miscarriage of justice on both sides of the Atlantic, where whistleblowers were wrongly jailed for crimes they didn't commit: this is the shocking true story of the Libor scandal, just not as you knew it.
Rigged picks up where The Big Short leaves off, in the autumn of 2007, as the dark clouds of the financial crisis gather. Financial institutions enter a state of panic. For the Big 16 banks, their measure of health is an interest rate measure known as Libor (the London Interbank Offered Rate). The higher the Libor, the worse off the bank – too high and it’s goodnight Vienna. Libor is heading skywards. To save themselves from collapse, nationalization and loss of bonuses, banks and financial institutions conspire to rig Libor so it stays artificially low, a criminal practice known as lowballing. A handful of low-level traders, outraged after being ordered to rig Libor, turn whistleblowers, alerting the Wall Street Journal. When it proves impossible for the investigators to pin the crime on the banks themselves, they turn on the traders. They charge them with rigging interest rates for profit, a crime of which – as Rigged proves – they were innocent.
30 traders have been prosecuted at the time of writing, with 11 convicted, 13 acquitted and 6 on the run. They remain the only bankers jailed since the 2008 financial crisis – and they’re innocent of the crimes of which they are accused. In fact, as Rigged exclusively shows, the crimes didn’t even take place. These trials served as a distraction, allowing the real perpetrators – bank bosses and executives, the people who played havoc with ordinary people’s money – to go unpunished.
Innocent people jailed for years for doing the right thing, their lives ruined and families destroyed. One of the most spectacular miscarriages of justice the US and UK have ever seen. How could this happen?
Turns out, it’s not just the market that’s rigged – it’s the entire system.
Andy Verity is the award-winning economics correspondent for BBC News, covering finance and business on the BBC radio and TV bulletins as well as reporting for Panorama, BBC Newsnight and BBC Radio 4’s investigative strand, File on Four. He can currently be heard on the UK's Today program, Radio Four’s six o’clock news and the BBC News TV channel. He has broadcast and published high-impact investigative stories on the Libor scandal, including a Panorama film on the Bank of England's role and 'The Lowball Tapes', an explosive podcast. This is his first book.