A former City trader accused of manipulating the Libor international lending rate has claimed all his actions were carried out openly in the full knowledge of his bosses.
Appearing in the witness box for the first time at his trial, Tom Hayes described “requests” he made to colleagues and brokers in other financial firms about setting the Libor rate at specific levels as “chancing my arm”.
“Was what you did clandestine?” defence counsel, Mr Neil Hawes, QC, asked.
“No, it was very consistent,” Hayes said. “Everything I did was in complete transparency with my line managers and direct managers. There was never anything I did that my managers were not aware of,” he claimed.
The 35-year-old from Fleet in Hampshire, who is the first person to face trial in the global rate-rigging investigation, told Southwark Crown Court that he did not believe he had acted dishonestly.
Hayes denies eight charges of conspiring to manipulate Libor, which is used to set the rate for loans and other financial deals worth trillions of pounds, while working for Swiss bank UBS and Citigroup of the US.
The prosecution allege Hayes conspired with others to fix Libor rates to advantage his own financial dealings, to the disadvantage of those who were doing deals with him.
But asked whether he accepted that he had entered into an agreement with all of the individuals on the indictment, he replied: “No, some of them I didn’t even know.”
It is claimed that when his former bosses at Citigroup found out what he was doing, he was placed under investigation – but Hayes claimed he was confused about why he was being questioned.
In one email he wrote: “As you are aware, until this week there has been no internal rule or policy surrounding this practice. Therefore I’m not really sure why I am repeatedly being dragged off the desk to discuss this. During the various meetings with the lawyers I feel as if I am being accused of doing something wrong.
“I am not sure what exactly I am being accused of and the lawyers do not seem to know or perhaps are not communicating it to me. There was never any specific thing or rule or policy.” Hayes was later dismissed from Citigroup.
Hayes said he thought there was “no downside” to making Libor rate requests. “I was hungry to do the best job I could do. Hungry because of the performance metric and hungry because of the way I was being judged.”
The jury was told Hayes has been diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome and only saw the world in black and white and struggled socially. He said colleagues at UBS called him “Rain Man”, a reference to the Dustin Hoffman character in the Hollywood film of that name. “They thought I was a little bit strange, I took things very literally. They used to laugh at me.”
He said he was “surprised” by his diagnosis: “It does explain certain character traits I have. The obsessionality.”
The jury heard that statements he made to the Serious Fraud Office after his arrest were exaggerated to help him avoid extradition to the US. He said he was desperate to stay in the UK with his wife and one-year-old child. He pleaded guilty in 2013 only to change his mind and plead not guilty a few months later.Reuse content