Libor-Euribor financial affair: chronicle of a legal fiasco

On the night of July 5 to 6, Tom Hayes had a nightmare, in which he was sent back to prison. After spending five and a half years behind bars in the United Kingdom, two and a half years after his release, the former trader, who claims his innocence, remains deeply traumatized. But the next day, he learned the news he had been waiting for so long: his trial will be reopened and will be held before the British Court of Appeal, probably in early 2024.

Also read the portrait: “Rain Man”, the trader at the heart of the Libor scandal

While the Briton had come to the end of all legal remedies, the British commission for the review of criminal trials (Criminal Cases Review Commission, CCRC) ruled in his favor. A rare decision, which can only be taken if new evidence or new elements can modify the initial judgment.

Helen Pitcher, President of the CCRC, believes that the “good legal approach” may not have been taken in the first trial, and she promises to “move heaven and earth in [la] fight against possible miscarriages of justice”.

Tom Hayes, the first trader convicted in the Libor and Euribor manipulation case, in Arundel (UK), on January 29, 2021, after his release from prison.

Judicial error… The word is out. Piercing blue eyes, contained emotion, but on edge, Mr. Hayes, sentenced at first instance in 2015 to fourteen years in prison (reduced to eleven years on appeal) – more than some murderers – has been fighting to clear his name since his initial arrest in December 2012. “We were sentenced for something that was simply not illegal”, he insists today. He speaks in the plural because he is the figurehead of a group of nine traders – including himself – sentenced to a total of forty-nine years and seven months in prison, all of whom hope to have their convictions overturned in the wake of Mr. Hayes.

Obscure interest rates

In the years following the 2008 financial crisis, these highly paid former bankers, including two Frenchmen, made perfect culprits. They found themselves at the center of what was presented by regulators and financial prosecutors in several countries as a huge scandal. According to the prosecution, they had manipulated obscure interest rates, called “Libor” and “Euribor”, which serve as benchmarks for hundreds of billions of euros in financial products.

Eight of them actually served time in prison, and the last one became a fugitive, a refugee in France. But today, the prosecution case is falling apart. “Tom [Hayes] and other traders served as scapegoats, accuses, on the BBC, the British Conservative MP David Davis. At the time, there was a kind of witch hunt: everyone was very angry with the bankers, for good reasons (…), people wanted punishment: I fear that the British courts gave in to this pressure. »

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