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Three ex-bankers guilty of rigging Libor rate involving 'eye-watering' sums

Published 04/07/2016

Alex Pabon was found guilty
Alex Pabon was found guilty

Three former Barclays bankers who rigged the Libor rate involving "eye-watering" sums of money have been found guilty of fraud, it can now be reported.

Jonathan James Mathew, 35, Jay Vijay Merchant, 45, and Alex Pabon, 37, manipulated the US Dollar London Interbank Offered Rate between 2005 and 2007.

The rate is used to set millions of pounds-worth of financial deals, including car loans and mortgages. It is also used in complex overseas financial transactions.

To maximise profit from their trades, the men rigged the US Dollar their way to put themselves at an advantage and to disadvantage the people they were dealing with.

They were found guilty last week of conspiracy to defraud during a three-month trial at Southwark Crown Court in London, and were not in court on Monday when reporting restrictions were lifted.

The convictions can only be reported now after Judge Anthony Leonard discharged the jurors when they failed to reach a verdict on two other defendants, Stylianos Contogoulas, 44, and Ryan Reich, 34.

The traders were dealing with "eye-watering" sums of money when they manipulated the US Dollar Libor between June 1 2005 and August 31 2007, prosecutor James Hines QC said.

Mathew told the court he learned the practice from senior trader Peter Johnson, who has admitted rigging Libor, and thought he was doing nothing wrong.

The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) investigation into the alleged fixing of Libor began in 2012.

British and US regulators fined Barclays £290 million over the scandal in 2012.

Sentencing is on Thursday.

A couple of jurors smiled and nodded to each other as Judge Leonard handed them lifelong immunity from jury service.

He praised jurors for delaying proceedings "by just 10 minutes" during the three-month trial, something he described as a record for the court.

David Green, director of the Serious Fraud Office, said: "The key issue in this case was dishonesty.

"By their verdicts the jury demonstrated they were sure that the conduct of three of the defendants, Jonathan Mathew, Jay Merchant and Alex Pabon was dishonest. Senior Libor submitter Peter Johnson accepted he had been dishonest when he pleaded guilty to the offence in October 2014.

"The trial in this country of American nationals also demonstrates the extent to which the response to Libor manipulation has been international and the subject of extensive co-operation between US and UK authorities."

The chairman of the House of Commons Treasury Committee, Andrew Tyrie, said: "These convictions, which take place under the law that existed prior to the Libor scandal, should themselves act as a deterrent.

"The regulators are now armed by Parliament with far more stringent powers and penalties. Those who might be tempted into wrong-doing need to know that these new sanctions are available, and Parliament will expect the regulator to use them rigorously."

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