• Prosecutor says ex-trader told some ‘very obvious lies’
  • Former bankers face maximum jail term of 10 years if convicted

A London prosecutor told jurors they didn’t have to decide whether the banking industry as a whole is guilty of fraud, but just the five former Barclays Plc traders accused of manipulating Libor.

James Hines, a prosecutor for the Serious Fraud Office, made the argument Wednesday as he asked the jurors to disregard testimony by the five bankers that manipulation of benchmarks was an everyday occurrence, not only in the bank but also across the City of London.

"The banking industry isn’t on trial, it is a handful of dishonest traders," Hines said on the second day of his closing argument.

Alex Pabon, Stylianos Contogoulas, Jay Merchant, Jonathan Mathew and Ryan Reich are on trial for conspiring to fix the London interbank offered rate, a benchmark tied to trillions of dollars in securities and loans, between 2005 and 2007. They face as long as 10 years in prison if convicted.

Merchant, in particular, said the culture of making the requests was fostered by senior managers at the bank despite there being no e-mail or documentary evidence they instructed traders to act dishonestly, Hines said.

"Was he lying to you?" Hines asked the jury, referring to Merchant. "We suggest there are some very obvious lies."

Three current and former Barclays executives testified earlier in the trial. All of them denied any knowledge of the practice, Hines said.

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