A former star trader who was once considered one of Deutsche Bank’s most successful bankers has pleaded guilty in a Serious Fraud Office (SFO) probe into Euribor manipulation.
Christian Bittar, who was among six traders charged in the first SFO case that focused on the Brussels-based benchmark, pleaded guilty to the offence on 2 March.
News of his guilty plea emerged yesterday after reporting restrictions were lifted. In 2015, Bittar was charged along with five other traders, including four from Barclays, with one count of conspiracy to defraud over allegations they played a role in rigging Euribor rates between January 2005 and December 2009.
The trial for the five other defendants – Deutsche Bank trader Achim Kraemer and Barclays’ Colin Bermingham, Carlo Palombo, Philippe Moryoussef and Sisse Bohart – is to take place next month. Bittar’s lawyer David Savell would not comment on his client’s guilty plea when contacted yesterday.
Savell, a partner at US law firm Locke Lord, said: “It would not be right to make comment prior to the trial of the remaining defendants and prior to Mr Bittar’s sentencing.”
The SFO opened its investigation into allegations of Euribor rigging in June 2012, when it undertook similar probes in allegations of fixing around the UK's benchmark, Libor.
Tom Hayes, the first person to be found guilty of Libor rigging in the UK, was charged in 2012 and is currently serving an 11-year prison sentence.
The former UBS and Citigroup trader has also sought to overturn his sentence and last year he won the right to halt the Financial Conduct Authority’s (FCA) decision to ban him from the financial services industry pending the outcome a Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC) investigation.
The past week has seen former Barclays trader Alex Pabon lose his appeal against his Libor rigging sentence after the Court of Appeal rejected complaints regarding the credibility of an SFO witness, while former Deutsche Bank trader Guillaume Adolph was fined £180,000 by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) which banned him from ever working in the financial services industry.
The SFO originally planned to charge 11 Deutsche Bank, Barclays and Societe Generale traders in the Euribor case. However, five men from Germany and France did not attend a London court hearing to be formally charged in 2016 and they have not been subsequently extradited.
Bittar, once one of Deutsche Bank’s most profitable bankers, worked in London as a senior trader in interest rate-based derivatives before moving to Singapore in 2010. He left the bank in 2011. A separate case against him by the FCA has been put on hold pending the criminal proceedings.