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Former Barclays traders acquitted in UK’s fourth Libor trial

Posted by: Admin | Posted on: April 6th, 2017 | 0 Comments


LONDON Two former Barclays (BARC.L) traders were acquitted by a jury on Thursday of conspiring to rig benchmark interest rates.

Ryan Reich, a 35-year-old American, and Greek national Stylianos Contogoulas, 45, walked free after their second trial on a charge of conspiracy to defraud. The first jury to examine their case could not reach a verdict last year, although four Barclays co-defendants were jailed.

The unanimous verdicts bring to eight the number of defendants who have been acquitted in a five-year criminal investigation into whether bankers acted dishonestly when they tried to influence benchmark interest rates.

The Serious Fraud Office had alleged Reich and Contogoulas plotted with other Barclays staff between June 2005 and September 2007 to skew Libor (London interbank offered rate), a benchmark for rates on around $450 trillion of financial contracts and loans worldwide.

Barclays was the first of 11 banks and brokerages to be fined for Libor misconduct in 2012, sparking a political backlash that forced out senior executives including former CEO Bob Diamond, prompted the SFO investigation and new laws to criminalize rate rigging.

Some lawyers say the unpredictable nature of criminal prosecutions and the English jury trial system means the SFO, which has been dogged by speculation that Prime Minister Theresa May might merge it into a national crime fighting body, should not be judged by its latest loss or win.

The agency has been praised by some lawmakers for clinching a series of corporate plea deals that include a 671 million pound ($840 million) deferred prosecution agreement with Rolls-Royce (RR.L) over widespread bribery in January.

But after a costly, six-week retrial, that followed a 10-week trial in 2016, the jury acquitted Reich unanimously shortly after withdrawing to consider its verdict on Wednesday.

Judge Anthony Leonard had imposed reporting restrictions until the jury reached its verdict on Contogoulas, who was also acquitted unanimously on Thursday.

(Editing by Rachel Armstrong and Alexander Smith)

Article source: http://feeds.reuters.com/~r/reuters/businessNews/~3/NqShk6qQPlE/us-court-libor-barclays-idUSKBN178126

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