Court hears bankers were like cheating Aussie cricketers

Court hears bankers were like cheating Aussie cricketers

A group of bankers behaved like the cheating Australian cricket team when they plotted to rig a vital lending rate, a court heard.

The group were "gaming the financial system" in a scam likened to cricketers applying sand paper to the ball to make the ball swing through the air, jurors heard.

The bankers are said to have conspired with other traders to manipulate the Euribor lending rate so they could make even more cash on top of their multi-million pound pay packages.

Londoner Colin Bermingham, 62, Denmark-born Sisse Bohart, 41, and Italian Carlo Palombo, 40, are accused of manipulating the Euribor benchmark interest rate.

The three former Barclays traders deny conspiracy to defraud between 2005 and 2009.

Jurors were told two other traders Philippe Moryoussef, 50, and Christian Bittar, 47, were convicted of their involvement in the plot at the first trial last July.

Euribor is the benchmark for Euro lending for financial markets worldwide, impacting about $450 trillion worth of financial products annually, and is based on the average lending rates of 16 panel banks.

The group were charged following an investigation by the Serious Fraud Office after the scandal of widespread manipulation of interbank lending rates by bankers and stockbrokers which hit the headlines in July 2012.

Bittar was earning up to £47m at the time of the fraud, Southwark Crown Court heard.

Prosecutor James Waddington, QC, said Bittar was a key player in the plot and was in cahoots with Moryoussef.

He boasted about what he was doing and told Moryoussef to 'keep it to himself' after the system was deliberately flouted on a day-to-day basis, jurors were told.

"Those are the introductions to the various people who are the major participants in this case," said Mr Waddington.

"In a nutshell, the case concerns a group of people who were conspiring to commit fraud within the banking sector between 2005 and 2009.

"In fact, the main period you are going to be focussing on is in 2005, 2006, 2007 and into 2008 - by the time we get to 2009 all of the evidence affects the core issues."

Mr Waddington likened the bankers to a betting syndicate and said they were paid on how good their performance was and they wanted to be the best.

He said: "This is about the manipulation of an interest rate by a group of banking employees."

Jurors heard the banks were responsible for setting the interest rate and the defendants were in charge of calculating figures used to affect them.

The prosecutor said the men intended to carry out the fraud by "recruiting like-minded" employees also involved in the industry.

"It is big business," Mr Waddington said.

Mr Waddington said Moryoussef and Palombo were in the job of predicting what an interest rate would be and they artificially moved the rate to increase their potential profits.

He described the fraud as a gamble and compared it to betting on a rigged sports betting.