Ex-Deutsche Bank Trader Bittar Fights to Proceed With FCA Suitby
Bittar seeks to avoid delays despite pending criminal charges
Civil cases generally halted until criminal charges resolved
Ex-Deutsche Bank trader Christian Bittar is fighting to press on with a lawsuit against the U.K. regulator over its portrayal of his conduct in relation to benchmark rigging, despite facing criminal charges.
Bittar’s lawyers asked a London court Wednesday not to postpone the civil matter in light of the criminal proceedings. The U.K. Serious Fraud Office, which is prosecuting Bittar, and the Financial Conduct Authority, are seeking to delay the case.
Bittar is suing the FCA over allegations the regulator made about his conduct in a penalty notice against Deutsche Bank last year when the bank paid a record $2.5 billion fine to global authorities over Libor and other related benchmark rigging. Despite the FCA’s attempt to anonymize individuals in the report, a London court ruled last year that Bittar was identifiable, which opened the door for him to challenge the allegations.
Since that ruling, Bittar was charged with conspiring to manipulate Euribor -- the euro counterpart of the London interbank offered rate -- by the SFO in January. He is scheduled to stand trial in September 2017.
Regulatory proceedings are usually adjourned when there is a parallel criminal trial to avoid publicity that would interfere with the right to a fair trial.
This is "an attempt to sideline" the regulatory action so the tribunal "doesn’t get to adjudicate on these very serious and important issues until long after they happened," Andrew Hunter, a lawyer for Bittar, told the court.
A lawyer for the SFO said the agency was worried that if the civil hearing went ahead before the criminal trial it could lead to publicity that would influence a jury. The criminal trial could be delayed by attempts to use the findings from the civil case into evidence.
The FCA has faced a number of suits from traders over their identifiability in penalty notices. If an individual is identified in a settlement, the FCA has to give them the opportunity to respond to the allegations before it publishes them.