Ex-Barclays Trader’s Lawyer Compares Libor Denials to Nude Beach

  • Missing Libor fixing like not seeing naked people, lawyer says
  • Lawyer for Ryan Reich makes final closing argument at trial

The idea that Barclays Plc executives weren’t aware of Libor-rigging is like being on a “nudist beach” and failing to realize people are naked, a lawyer for a former trader on trial for benchmark manipulation told jurors. 

To say these "multi-million-pound men" simply failed to detect it and stop it seems unlikely, Adrian Darbishire, a lawyer for Ryan Reich, said in his closing arguments Wednesday in London. A more reasonable explanation is that they didn’t think anything was wrong with the setup, Darbishire said.

"The idea that these individuals were unaware of banks’ positions influencing Libor is like watching a man on holiday taking a detour through a crowded nudist beach in the south of France and when his wife says ‘what on earth were you doing?,’ he says ‘oh was it a nudist beach? I didn’t realize,”’ Darbishire said.

Darbishire’s speech comes at the end of a more than two-month trial of five former Barclays traders who are accused of conspiring to fix the London interbank offered rate, a benchmark tied to trillions of dollars in securities and loans. A number of senior executives, including Harry Harrison, now head of non-core assets at Barclays, testified they weren’t aware of Libor-rigging.

The Serious Fraud Office’s case "is self-contradictory" and has been presented in a "misleading and unfair way," Darbishire said.

No Clear Rules

The 34-year-old Reich admits making rate requests to suit his derivatives positions, but said there were no clear rules on Libor at the time and the queries were always within an acceptable range. He also claimed investors on the other side of trades were aware and would expect banks to take their own commercial interests into consideration.

"Not a single counterparty has been asked by the SFO to come forward and tell us what their expectations were," even though it’s central to their case, said Darbishire.

Reich is accused alongside fellow ex-traders Jonathan Mathew, Alex Pabon, Stylianos Contogoulas and Jay Merchant. The men face as long as 10 years in prison if convicted.

Judge Anthony Leonard will now sum up the case for the jury, which could begin deliberations later this week.

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