Sixth broker found not guilty in Libor fraud trial

Champagne

Icap employee Darrell Read has been found not guilty of fraud, meaning all six brokers accused of helping rig the Libor interest rate have now been cleared of all charges.

The jury at the Libor trial at Southwark crown court in London returned a majority verdict of not guilty against Read on one outstanding count on Thursday morning. 

The verdict comes a day after five other brokers standing trial with Read were cleared of rigging Libor.

The other brokers were Danny Wilkinson and Colin Goodman, who also worked at Icap, Noel Cryan, formerly of Tullett Prebon, and Jim Gilmour and Terry Farr of RP Martin.

They were accused of helping UBS trader Tom Hayes, who is serving 11 years in prison, to rig Libor.

The brokers’ trial lasted 15 weeks, but the jury was out for less than a day before revealing its verdicts.

The brokers, whose nicknames included “Lord Libor” and “Big Nose”, were accused of acting as go-betweens by passing around requests from traders and being paid extra commission by Hayes.

Libor is the interest rate at which banks borrow from each other. It underpins hundreds of trillions of pounds of contracts, from mortgages to corporate lending.

The solicitor for Goodman, who was know as Lord Libor, criticised the Serious Fraud Office’s handling of the case. David Janes said: “Mr Colin Goodman (Lord Libor) is very grateful to the jury for throwing out this allegation in one day despite the fact the trial lasted three and a half months.

“We can only reiterate what his counsel told the jury, that the SFO case was a complete shambles and should never have been brought.”

The verdicts are a blow to the Serious Fraud Office, which put its reputation on line by announcing in 2012 it would pursue criminal convictions over the rigging of Libor.

David Green, SFO director said: “The key issue in this trial was whether these defendants were party to a dishonest agreement with Tom Hayes. By their verdicts the jury have said that they could not be sure that this was the case.

“Nobody could sensibly suggest that these charges should not have been brought and considered by a jury.”

The jurors were told by the judge only to convict the six brokers if evidence showed that they played a “significant” role in helping Hayes rig Libor.

“You would need to be satisfied that any involvement was not minimal or merely transitory, but something which establishes significant involvement in the continuing conspiracy,” Judge Nicholas Hamblen said.

Lawyers said that the SFO had been hindered in securing prosecutions because the British legal system meant it was difficult to pursue companies as opposed to individual employees.

Sarah Wallace, head of regulatory and criminal investigations at Irwin Mitchell, said: “They are often left with prosecuting peripheral individuals with the result, as in this case, that most have been acquitted fairly quickly by a jury, rather than looking at corporate criminal responsibility.

“One of the difficulties for the SFO in getting successful criminal prosecutions off the ground against corporates are the legal technicalities around the ‘controlling mind’ test.

“If the criminal law was changed to one of ‘vicarious liability’ for corporate criminal wrongdoing, the SFO could focus their time and limited resources prosecuting more corporates where there is evidence of criminal activity albeit not evidentially at the board level.”

Matthew Frankland, the solicitor for Wilkinson, said: “Ultimately, there is a hypocrisy in charging brokers. Brokers do not work for banks, they play no part in the Libor submission process and are not and never were regulated by the BBA in relation to their Libor predictions.

“The case also further highlights that yet again, most of the individuals prosecuted in the Libor cases are relatively junior within the different organisations, with more senior people not being held to account.”

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article was written by Graham Ruddick, for theguardian.com on Thursday 28th January 2016 11.13 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010

 

JefferiesAnd the Best Place to Work in the global financial markets 2016 is...

Register for Financial Markets News Alerts