Ex-Barclays Trader ‘Freaked Out’ by 2009 Libor Interviews

  • Ryan Reich thought ‘this is not good’ when called to lawyers
  • Reich says he will fight Libor charges ‘to my deathbed’

An ex-Barclays Plc trader on trial for conspiring to rig Libor said he was "freaked out" by an internal interview in 2009 despite reassurances from his bosses that there was nothing wrong with influencing the rates submitted by colleagues.

Ryan Reich was "tapped" on the shoulder by Harry Harrison, a senior executive, in October 2009 and was taken to a floor he had "never been to before" for an interview with the bank’s lawyers. “I had spoken to Harrison four or five times in my life, so I thought that this is not good," Reich said Thursday.

The 34-year-old Reich is on trial with former colleagues Alex Pabon, Stylianos Contogoulas, Jay Merchant and Jonathan Mathew for working together between 2005 through 2007 to fix the London interbank offered rate, or Libor, a benchmark tied to trillions of dollars in securities and loans. Another ex-trader, Peter Johnson, has pleaded guilty to the charge.

"I had never done anything wrong," Reich said. "I freaked out and as soon as I left," the interview "I called Ronti Pal. If something goes wrong, you talk to your boss."

Pal, who was Reich’s direct manager in New York, hasn’t been accused of any wrongdoing. Pal reassured Reich in a bar across the street from the office.

“He said that this can’t possibly be a big deal," Reich said. After speaking to Pal, he called Merchant, who also told him not to worry.

"I will fight this to my deathbed, there was nothing wrong" with making trader requests, Reich said. He was put on paid leave by Barclays in February 2010 and fired a month later.

Shocking

Reich said his bosses Pal and Harrison must’ve known he communicated with the Libor submitters. "It would be shocking to me that he would not have known that," Reich said referring to Harrison.

Three current and former Barclays executives, including Harrison, testified earlier in the trial they knew nothing about the Libor rigging and that traders shouldn’t have been communicating with the submitters at all, prosecutors said Thursday. Reich said they were wrong.

"Were they all lying?" James Hines, the prosecution lawyer, asked Reich.

"Yes," he replied. "They’re flat wrong."

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