Barclays bankers jailed in Libor case

  • 08/07/2016
Jay Merchant (Reuters)
Jay Merchant (Reuters)

Four former Barclays bankers have been sentenced to between 33 months and six-and-a-half years in jail by a London judge for conspiring to rig global benchmark interest rates.

Calcutta-born Jay Merchant, 45, the most senior of the men to face a jury in the case, was sentenced to six-and-a-half years on Thursday.

The New York-based former derivatives trader was convicted unanimously.

Merchant's junior, 38-year-old American Alex Pabon, was sentenced to two years and nine months and junior British Libor submitter Jonathan Mathew, 35, was handed a four-year sentence.

Both men were convicted by majority verdict.

Mathew's former boss, 61-year-old Peter Johnson, a 35-year Barclays veteran, was also sentenced to four years. The former senior dollar Libor submitter and head dollar cash trader pleaded guilty in October 2014 and did not stand trial.

Judge Anthony Leonard said the men would serve half their sentences in prison and then be released on licence.

"What this case has shown is the absence of integrity that ought to characterise banking," said Leonard.

The sentences come four years after Barclays became the first of 11 powerful banks and brokerages to be slapped with a hefty fine for their role in the rate fixing scandal, sparking a political backlash that forced out former CEO Bob Diamond, an overhaul of Libor rules and the criminal inquiry.

The men had faced sentences of up to 10 years after they were each charged with one count of conspiracy to defraud by plotting to rig Libor (London interbank offered rate), a benchmark for rates on around US$450 trillion (NZ$622 trillion) of financial contracts and loans, between June 2005 and September 2007.

The sentences fall short of the original 14-year jail term handed last August to Tom Hayes, a mildly autistic former UBS and Citigroup trader, on eight counts of conspiracy to defraud in the world's first Libor-rigging trial.

The sentence was cut to 11 years on appeal and Hayes continues to plan to appeal.

But seven months later in the United States, two British former Rabobank bankers, Anthony Allen and Anthony Conti, were sentenced to two years and one year and a day in prison respectively in the first U.S. Libor trial.

The comparative lightness of those jail terms prompted defence lawyers in the Barclays case to appeal for consistent sentencing across jurisdictions.