UK prosecutor charges US-based ex-Barclays staff in Libor probe

Mon Apr 28, 2014 11:08am EDT
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By Kirstin Ridley

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain on Monday filed its first criminal charges against U.S.-based Libor traders, as the UK arm of a complex global investigation into alleged benchmark interest-rate rigging stretches across the Atlantic.

The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) charged three former traders at British bank Barclays (BARC.L: Quote) - director of dollar fixed-income swaps Jay Merchant and dollar interest rate derivative traders Alex Pabon and Ryan Reich - with conspiracy to defraud in connection with its Libor inquiry.

A provisional hearing has been scheduled for the three men, who the SFO confirmed were currently in the United States, at Westminster Magistrates Court in London on May 27.

Reich's lawyer Ben Rose, a partner at UK firm Hickman and Rose, said: "He (Reich) is not guilty of this offence and will vigorously contest these allegations at his forthcoming trial."

The lawyers for the other two men were not immediately available to comment.

The charges could prompt the first extradition to Britain from the U.S. in the lengthy investigation into the alleged rigging of Libor (London interbank offered rate), a central cog in the global financial system.

The SFO declined to comment on any extradition request or give further details about the charges.

The investigation into benchmark interest rates has been overshadowed by a parallel inquiry into allegations of foreign-exchange market rigging, which on March 5 reached into the heart of London's financial establishment when the Bank of England suspended a staff member.   Continued...

A sign is displayed in an unmarked Serious Fraud Office vehicle parked outside a building, in Mayfair, central London March 9, 2011. REUTERS/Andrew Winning