Alleged Libor ringleader motivated by greed, trial hears

Tue May 26, 2015 12:13pm EDT
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By Kirstin Ridley

LONDON (Reuters) - Tom Hayes, a former trader on trial for allegedly conspiring to rig benchmark interest rates, has admitted to being motivated by greed and was fired by U.S. bank Citigroup in 2010, prosecutors told a London court on Tuesday.

Hayes is the first person to be prosecuted over manipulation of the London interbank offered rate (Libor) after a seven year, global inquiry that has led to banks and brokerages paying around $9 billion in fines and sparked an overhaul of how financial benchmarks such as Libor are policed.

Opening the case for the prosecuting, Serious Fraud Office (SFO) senior lawyer Mukul Chawla told the court that Hayes, 35, was at the centre of a conspiracy to rig Libor and had admitted during 82 hours of interviews with prosecutors that he had put his trading book and pay above other concerns.

"In his own words, he was greedy," Chawla told the jury, alleging that between 2006 and 2010 Hayes set out to manipulate Libor at his bank and others on an "almost daily basis".

The former yen derivatives trader is charged with eight counts of conspiracy to defraud between 2006 and 2010, a criminal offence that carries a maximum jail sentence of 10 years. He has pleaded not guilty and his defence team has yet to respond to the allegations in court.

Hayes earned around 4.8 million pounds ($7.4 million) working at UBS and Citigroup from 2006 to 2010, but almost two years into a legal battle he has been granted legal aid, state funding for those unable to afford lawyers.

The high-profile trial is expected to last 10 to 12 weeks and the courtroom was packed with members of the media taking seats in the dock usually reserved for the accused.

Hayes, diagnosed with mild Asperger's, a form of Autism, was given leave to sit with his solicitor so he could more easily instruct his legal team. He sat making notes and occasionally shook his head and frowned at comments by the prosecutor.   Continued...

Former trader Tom Hayes leaves Southwark Crown Court in London October 21, 2013. REUTERS/Toby Melville