Traders to discover outcome of rate-rigging convictions challenge

Two former financial market traders jailed for years over interest rate benchmark manipulation are set to discover whether or not they will be cleared by the Court of Appeal.

Tom Hayes, 44, a former Citigroup and UBS trader, was found guilty of multiple counts of conspiracy to defraud over manipulating the London Inter-Bank Offered Rate (Libor) between 2006 and 2010.

His case, alongside that of another similarly jailed trader Carlo Palombo, 45, were referred to the court by the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC), which investigates potential miscarriages of justice.

Tom Hayes and Carlo Palombo court case
Financial market trader Tom Hayes, who was jailed over interest rate benchmark manipulation, outside the Court of Appeal (James Manning/PA)

Hayes’ lawyers previously argued that the convictions of the two former bankers were “unsafe” and should be quashed.

They said, in arguments backed by Palombo’s lawyers, that the judge overseeing Hayes’ 2015 trial was wrong to tell jurors that there was a ban on commercial considerations during the Libor setting process.

Hayes’ legal team also argued the judge’s directions to the jury had a “catastrophic” impact on his defence and made his trial “extraordinarily unfair”.

Judges were told that they should follow the approach of a US appeals court in January 2022 which found there was no ban on taking into account commercial interests when making rate submissions.

The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) opposed the appeals which it said “reveal no new reason for questioning the approach and findings of this court on several prior occasions”.

Tom Hayes and Carlo Palombo court case
Carlo Palombo outside the Court of Appeal where his and Tom Hayes’ cases are being reviewed (James Manning/PA)

According to the SFO, Hayes was one of 19 people prosecuted for trader manipulation and one of nine convicted – all of whom have since brought unsuccessful appeal bids.

The Libor rate was previously used as a reference point around the world for the setting of millions of pounds of financial deals, including car loans and mortgages.

It was an interest rate average calculated from figures submitted by a panel of leading banks in London, with each one reporting what it would be charged were it to borrow from other institutions.

At his 2015 trial, Hayes was described by prosecutors as the “ringmaster” at the centre of an enormous fraud to boost his own six-figure earnings.

Hayes, who has maintained his innocence, spent five and a half years in prison and was released in January 2021.

His previous Court of Appeal challenge was rejected in December 2015, though he succeeded in securing a three-year cut to his 14-year sentence.

Palombo, an ex-vice president of euro rates at Barclays bank, was found guilty of conspiring with others to submit false or misleading Euro Interbank Offered Rate (Euribor) submissions between 2005 and 2009.

He was jailed for four years in April 2019 after a retrial.

Palombo, who denied acting dishonestly, lost a bid to overturn his conviction at the Court of Appeal in December 2020.

Lord Justice Bean, Lord Justice Popplewell and Mr Justice Bryan are expected to issue their ruling from 11.30am on Wednesday.

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