Dancing RP Martin Broker Didn't Understand Libor, Lawyer Says

  • Farr `wouldn't have understood' Libor if he read definition
  • Lawyer draws laughs describing BBA official as `clairvoyant'

Terry Farr, the former RP Martin Holdings Ltd. broker accused of helping Tom Hayes rig Libor for four years, was described by his lawyer as an honest man who didn’t even understand the benchmark rate.

Farr, 44, was a cash broker who struggled to understand derivatives or other aspects of financial markets, including the most basic features of how the London interbank offered rate was set and what it was supposed to represent, his lawyer, John Ryder, said during closing arguments in London Tuesday.

Farr, who left school at 15 and whose family owned a flower stall, and five other brokers, from Tullett Prebon Plc and ICAP Plc as well as RP Martin, are accused of helping Hayes tweak the yen variant of Libor by deceiving clients about the market, or leaning on them for favors. In exchange, they were collectively paid hundreds of thousands of pounds in kickbacks, prosecutors claim.

When Farr did a trade with Hayes, he did a little dance around his desk -- hardly the behavior of someone trying to hide his actions, Ryder said.

Unlike the other defendants, Farr doesn’t deny helping Hayes, a former trader at UBS Group AG and Citigroup Inc. who was convicted of rigging Libor last year, by asking rate setters at other banks for favorable submissions. Instead, Farr insists he simply had no idea it was wrong.

Libor Definition

"Even if he read the definition of Libor” on the British Bankers’ Association’s website “he probably wouldn’t have understood it," the silver-haired Ryder said, drawing laughter in the court.

Mild giggles turned into widespread chuckling when Ryder described cross-examining the BBA’s former Libor director, John Ewan, as "like interviewing a clairvoyant."

"Ask him a question and he’d go into a trance," Ryder said, adding that Ewan was rarely forthcoming with a straight answer.

The three-month trial is expected to wrap up early next week when the jury will be sent away to deliberate. Hayes was sentenced to 14 years for conspiracy to defraud in August. The penalty was reduced to 11 years on appeal.

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