In what is a staggering example of not only state meddling in the affairs of the "free press", but worse, sheer state idiocy, yesterday the WSJ posted an article on its website revealing that as many as 24 co-conspirators would be exposed shortly in the ongoing Libor manipulation scandal and divulging the names of various individuals on this list. What promptly followed was truly bizarre. As the WSJ reports shortly after posting the article, "a British judge ordered the Journal and David Enrich, the newspaper's European banking editor, to comply with a request by the U.K.'s Serious Fraud Office prohibiting the newspaper from publishing names of individuals not yet made public in the government's ongoing investigation into alleged manipulation of the London interbank offered rate, or Libor." This happened at 7:18 pm London time, after the original WSJ article had already hit the Internet.
The WSJ added that "The order, which applies to publication in England and Wales, also demanded that the Journal remove "any existing Internet publication" divulging the details. It threatened Mr. Enrich and "any third party" with penalties including a fine, imprisonment and asset seizure."
As a result, the media organization decided to comply with this gross example state censorship, and now in the place of the article, one could find the following note:
... but not before protesting vocally.
The article said the government was preparing to name roughly two dozen traders and brokers, adding that prosecutors were still finalizing their plans and that the list could change, citing people familiar with the process. Inclusion on the list doesn't represent a formal accusation of wrongdoing and doesn't mean the individuals will be charged with crimes.
"This injunction is a serious affront to press freedom," said Dow Jones & Co., publisher of the Journal. "We have been left with no choice but to remove the previously published story from WSJ.com and to withhold publication from the print edition of The Wall Street Journal Europe. However, we will continue to vigorously fight the injunction in the coming days."
Yet it is not the censorship that is most shocking here, but the way the UK's SFO went about scrubbing the trail. Because while the European version of the newspaper may have retracted the article from today's print edition, the piece was still in the US version. Furthermore, since the original WSJ article hit the net before it was pulled, it was promptly picked up and reforwarded by either robotic or manned resyndicators of the WSJ. One such example was ValueWalk which took down the salient details that the SFO is so concerned about:
Among those who could be name are several of Hayes’ former coworkers at both Citigroup Inc and UBS AG. Michael Pieri, who was Hayes’ boss while he worked at UBS, was fired by the bank and moved to Australia. Hayes’ former assistant at UBS, Mirhat Alykulov, could also be on the list. Sources said he has been cooperating with investigators from the U.S.
Another name which could be on the SFO’s list is Christopher Cecere, who was Hayes’ boss while he worked in Citigroup’s Tokyo operations. Cecere resigned from his position at Citigroup around the same time Hayes was fired. Other people who could be on the list are ex HSBC Holdings plc trader Luke Madden, former JPMorgan Chase & Co. employee Paul Glands, and former Rabobank employee Paul Robson.
And, of course, the full list is in today's US print edition of the WSJ. Which begs the question: aside from matter of state censorship and free press intervention, what exactly did the UK hope to achieve here? After all, a cursory one minute search would reveal all the names hidden, but now the extra buzz generated by UK's attempt to quash the story, merely made it that much more interesting to all, and whereas some may have skipped it - after all who really cares about Libor manipulation anymore considering the entire market is openly manipulated by the Fed now - now everyone will focus on the names that were purposefully withheld.
Sheer statist stupidity.
The letter sent to the WSJ is below: