The former CEO of UBS blamed 'mercenaries' for its role in the global interest-rate rigging scandal that has further undermined the Swiss bank's once venerable reputation.
'In these pockets where we had these problems it wasn't probably a bad culture, but it was a lack of culture', Marcel Rohner told a British parliamentary panel investigating banking standards in the wake of the Libor scandal.
'When you grow a business too quickly you hire people from many different places and some of them ... you really have to qualify as mercenaries', he told the panel on Thursday.
Reuters reports that panel members accused Rohner and three other former UBS executives (Huw Jenkins, Alex Wilmot-Sitwell and Jerker Johansson) of gross negligence and incompetence for failing to detect the manipulation, which stretched back to 2005 and occurred when each of them had been in charge of the bank's investment business.
'What we have heard are appalling mistakes that can only be described as gross negligence and incompetence', said Andrew Tyrie, a politician who leads the Parliament’s commission on banking standards that is investigating wrongdoing at the firms operating in London. 'The level of ignorance seems staggering to the point of incredulity'.
The New York Times reports that UBS agreed to pay the $1.5bn fine in late 2012 to settle allegations that some of its traders had altered the London interbank offered rate, or Libor, and the euro interbank offered rate, or Euribor, to increase their own profits. The benchmark rates underpin trillions of dollars of financial products, including mortgages, worldwide.