Fraud squad lawyer tells court two ex-Barclays traders accused of Libor rigging treated honesty as if it were expendable

 
Hayley Kirton
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The two men are former Barclays bankers (Source: Getty)

A lawyer acting for the fraud squad told a court today that two ex-Barclays traders accused of Libor rigging treated honesty as if it were expendable.

The Serious Fraud Office (SFO), which is prosecuting the case, has claimed Stylianos Contogoulas, 45, and Ryan Reich, 35, played roles in a conspiracy to fix the benchmark rate between 1 June 2005 and 1 September 2007.

Both men have pleaded not guilty to one charge each of conspiracy to defraud.

Emma Deacon, lawyer for the SFO, told the court the two men were, in their actions, "driven by money".

"Their singular goal was to make more profit on their trading; and, as you will see, insofar as they stood in the way, honesty and integrity were matters which were entirely expendable," she added.

Libor, described as Deacon as being "at the heart of this fraud", is a benchmark rate and, the lawyer added, "represents the interest rate at which major banks could money from each other".

During the time period the case is concerned with, US Dollar Libor was set using a trimmed average of submissions from 16 panel banks, with Deacon remarking there was "considerable kudos attached" to being one of these banks.

"Essentially, it's cheating," she said of the bankers' alleged actions to nudge the rates in their favour.

She added that, had those on the other side of Barclays' trading activities known what was going on, "they would, you might think, have hardly traded with Barclays on that basis".

The court was told two former Libor submitters for the bank, Peter Johnson and Jonathan Mathew, have already been convicted for Libor manipulation.

However, Deacon noted it was not the fraud squad's argument that Libor rigging was the only way in which the pair standing trial made profits, "or that they weren't otherwise perfectly good at their jobs".

The case, which is expected to run for around six weeks and is being heard in Southwark Crown Court, is ongoing.

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