Two former Barclays traders have been cleared by a London jury in the latest Libor trial over conspiring to manipulate the U.S. dollar London interbank offered rate from 2005 to 2007.
The bankers Ryan Reich, a 35-year-old American, and Greek national Stylianos Contogoulas, 45, were found not guilty of all charges by a jury at Southwark Crown Court following a six-week trial.
The verdicts come as a blow to the UK’s Serious Fraud Office which brought Libor prosecutions with lawyers saying it should be targetting more senior figures in London. The SFO has also received extra funding recently to investigate accusations of abuse of Libor. As a result, the jury’s decision to acquit the traders represents a major defeat for the agency which had staked much of its reputation on the accusations.
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Prosecutors claimed that the traders, who went by colourful names were recruited as part of a scheme to convince traders at other banks to give false Libor submissions. The aim was to move the rate at which Libor was set in a direction which would benefit their bank’s trading book, the prosecution said.
Libor is an interest rate benchmark which is set by a group of banks and which is used to determine the pricing of trillions of dollars of loans and transactions.
Roland Ellis, lawyer of Mr Contogoulas said in a statement: “The decision by the SFO to seek a retrial of my client after the jury had failed to reach a verdict following a four-month trial in 2016 was regrettable. We made strong representations to them that it was not in the public interest to do so and that the prospects of a conviction were slim.”
“Unfortunately they chose not to accede to those representations. The speed with which the jury reached their verdicts today would suggest that those representations had considerable merit. This trial was the first time that any jury has actually been asked to consider whether as a matter of fact any trader deliberately broke the rules or caused false Libors to be submitted. They rapidly rejected the SFO’s case,” the lawyer added.