March 23, 2016 / 12:43 PM / 3 years ago

UK court orders jailed Libor trader to pay $1.25 million

LONDON (Reuters) - Tom Hayes, a former star trader serving an 11-year jail sentence for manipulating Libor interest rates, was on Wednesday ordered to pay 878,806 pounds ($1.25 million) by a judge or face further time in prison.

Former trader Tom Hayes arrives at Southwark Crown Court in London, Britain August 3, 2015. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls

Judge Jeremy Cooke, who sentenced Hayes in August and has held him up as an example to errant bankers worldwide, said he expected Hayes’s wife to sell a seven-bedroom house to help pay the penalty aimed at clawing back proceeds from Hayes’s crimes.

The penalty is, however, substantially less than the 2.45 million pounds sought by Britain’s Serious Fraud Office (SFO).

Hayes, a 36-year-old former UBS (UBSG.S) and Citigroup (C.N) derivatives trader, was the first person convicted by a jury for rigging the London interbank offered rate (Libor), which helps set rates on about $450 trillion of financial contracts worldwide.

“... the Serious Fraud Office has tried to take everything from me - from my liberty to my wedding ring,” Hayes said in a statement from prison.

“I vehemently maintain my innocence,” he added. “The practices for which I have been imprisoned were industry standard practice and had been for 20 years. I have every intention of telling the general public the truth about Libor and will do so at the earliest possible opportunity.”

The SFO had sought around 2.45 million pounds that Hayes earned in bonuses as a yen derivatives trader in Tokyo between 2006 and 2010. The agency argued it was impossible to separate ill-gotten gains from honest earnings.

Peter Binning, a partner at law firm Corker Binning, said the order was significant because the SFO case was not based on evidence of any actual loss to Hayes’s trading counterparties and had simply confiscated a proportion of awarded bonuses.

Judge Cooke, who has overseen the case against Hayes since 2013 and is retiring, said he expected Hayes’s wife Sarah Tighe to sell The Old Rectory, a country house in southern England that is in her name and valued at about 1.9 million pounds.

Hayes, who can appeal the penalty, might also be asked to contribute to the costs of the trial, which the prosecution described as “astronomical”. Lawyers told the court they would try to reach agreement later.

Apart from the property, other recoverable assets listed by prosecutors have included Tighe’s engagement ring and wedding rings. On Wednesday, the court was told “immediately realizable assets” included Hayes’s car, his bank account and watch.

“It is obvious what the position is,” said Cooke. “The house has to be sold.”

Reporting by Kirstin Ridley; Editing by David Goodman and Mark Potter

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