Former Barclays Euribor trader likens position at bank to working at McDonald's

Alexandra Rogers
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Palombo earned £1.5m while working at Barclays (Source: Getty)

A former Barclays trader who is facing charges he conspired to rig the Euribor interest rate benchmark for commercial gain has compared his seniority at the bank to those working at McDonald's.

Carlo Palombo, who worked at the bank for several years from 2002 onwards, is one of five traders on trial at Southwark crown court over their role in allegedly rigging the rate used to determine how banks borrow from each other.

Palombo told the court that despite earning a salary of around £1.5m and receiving a promotion to vice president by 2009, his achievements were "standard" and he was just like "the guy who serves you at McDonald’s”.

"Vice president is not what people mean by vice president. Vice president means the junior," he said.

James Waddington QC, the barrister for the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) which is prosecuting the case, suggested that as Palombo became more senior his salary also spiked.

"So the rewards for you in financial terms from gaining promotion were very substantial, weren't they, very substantial?" he asked, to which Palombo replied: "I was a junior trader on the desk ... the problem is in these kind of jobs people do get paid a lot of money for what they're doing."

He said his remuneration had "absolutely nothing to do with this case, it is got nothing to do with the reason why we're here".

Waddington accused Palombo of going along with a system of making requests he knew were wrong because there was "a lot of money to be made by the desk and you personally".

"If you want to have a conversation about income and equality in society, let's talk about it," Palombo replied. "I think it's a problem, but it's got nothing to do with this case."

Palombo added that many of the bank's employees got paid millions for "doing nothing", saying that salary levels were not necessarily an indicator of seniority at the bank - and that in 2006 he was paid £300,000 to be the "coffee boy".

Along with Palombo, fellow former Barclays traders Colin Bermingham, Sisse Bohart, Philippe Moryoussef and Deutsche Bank employee Achim Kraemer are all facing a possible 10-year prison sentence for their role in the fixing scandal.

The SFO announced it was pursuing the traders in November 2015 following a similar investigation into manipulations of the London Interbank Offered Rate (Libor).