Ex-Barclays Traders Get as Long as 6 1/2 Years in Libor Case

Four Former Barclays Traders Sentenced
  • Four former traders sentenced to more than 17 years combined
  • Sentences follow three-month conspiracy trial in London

Four former Barclays Plc traders were sentenced to as long as 6 1/2 years in prison for manipulating Libor as U.K. judges continued meting out tough punishments for white-collar crime.

QuickTake Libor and Other Benchmark Lies

Jay Merchant, 45, got the longest sentence, while 61-year-old Peter Johnson, who had pleaded guilty, and Jonathan Mathew, 35, each received four years in prison. Alex Pabon, 38, will serve two years and nine months in jail. The men, who were mostly dressed in jeans and t-shirts, were led out of the court by three security guards immediately after the hearing.

The sentences are the latest in a wave of long jail terms related to financial wrongdoing. Former UBS Group AG trader Tom Hayes is serving 11 years in prison for rigging Libor and in May an ex-Deutsche Bank AG broker received a record 4 1/2-year term for insider trading. 

"The jury has characterized your behavior as dishonest, as you must have known that it was," Judge Anthony Leonard said during the sentencing. Your behavior demonstrates an "absence of integrity that ought to characterize banking."

Family members cried as the sentences were read out. An older man who escorted Pabon’s wife out of the courtroom, muttered “disgrace, utter disgrace” as they left.

All four of the Barclays bankers were accused of participating in a conspiracy to manipulate the London interbank offered rate from 2005 to 2007. Their convictions come nearly one year after Hayes became the first person globally to be imprisoned over Libor in August. Johnson pleaded guilty in 2014, while his ex-colleagues went to trial.

Hayes

Judge Leonard said there were “real and significant differences between” the actions of Hayes and the men who were in his court Thursday. But, he said, he didn’t agree with arguments he should show leniency because of the many traders involved that haven’t been prosecuted and the shorter prison sentences handed out for the behavior in the U.S.

Merchant joined Barclays in 2002 to work on the short-end book before the euro desk and then on the dollar desk in New York. Prosecutors said he took young and inexperienced traders, including Pabon, under his wing and brought them in on the conspiracy to rig rates. Merchant was the best paid of all the defendants, making 2.2 million pounds ($2.9 million) in 2007.

Merchant bears “the greatest responsibility for what happened,” the judge said.

The judge also told Johnson he played a "pivotal role" but had made a "courageous decision" to plead guilty. His sentence was reduced by a third because of his cooperation in the case.

Young Families

Leonard reduced the sentences for a variety of reasons, including the fact some of the men had young families or lived in the U.S. and would be incarcerated thousands of miles from home. The starting point for Merchant was 8 years, Johnson 7 1/2 years, Mathew 5 years and Pabon 4 years.

In addition to the prison sentence, Johnson was ordered to pay about 144,500 pounds in restitution and costs. Similar hearings to determine how much the other three men owe will be scheduled at a later date.

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