First trader to be jailed for rate rigging will go to the Supreme Court to clear his name

 (Jordan Pettitt/PA Wire)
(Jordan Pettitt/PA Wire)

The first trader jailed worldwide for Libor interest rate rigging has been left with a possible route clear his name, despite being refused permission to appeal against his conviction at the UK’s Supreme Court.

Tom Hayes, a former star Citigroup and UBS trader, was convicted in 2015 of conspiracy to defraud by manipulating Libor, a benchmark rate once used to price trillions of pounds worth of financial products globally.

He appealed against his conviction earlier this year alongside Carlo Palombo, a former Barclays trader convicted in 2019 of skewing Libor’s euro equivalent, Euribor.

On Tuesday the Court of Appeal refused to give Hayes and Palombo permission to appeal to the Supreme Court, however it did confirm that the case raised a “point of law of general public importance”.

This means that Hayes and Palombo can apply directly to the Supreme Court for permission to appeal.

Following the announcement, Hayes said: “I’m delighted that, at the fifth attempt the court has finally and correctly certified this as a point of law of public importance.

Ex-bankers Carlo Palombo and Tom Hayes outside court (Lucy North/PA) (PA Wire)
Ex-bankers Carlo Palombo and Tom Hayes outside court (Lucy North/PA) (PA Wire)

He added that rate traders “have long insisted that submitting numerically truthful values was truthful, genuine and honest.

“Now the Supreme Court will have the opportunity to decide if the presence of commercial consideration made those truthful rates criminal.

“It’s time for the UK legal system to now align with the rest of the world and for these miscarriages of justice to be corrected.”

In a ruling in March, three judges dismissed the appeals, with Lord Justice Bean finding that jurors were not misdirected in Hayes‘ case.

And at a short hearing on Tuesday, the same judge, sitting with Lord Justice Popplewell and Mr Justice Bryan, refused the pair permission to appeal at the Supreme Court.

However, the three judges did rule the case involves a “point of law of general public importance”, keeping open the possibility of a challenge at the UK’s highest court.

Lord Justice Bean said: “It should be for the Supreme Court to decide whether the point of law is one which it ought to consider in the light of the consistent series of decisions of the Court of Appeal.”

The Libor rate was previously used as a reference point around the world for setting trillions of pounds worth of financial deals, including car loans and mortgages.

It was an interest rate average calculated from figures submitted by a panel of leading banks in London, with each one reporting what it would be charged were it to borrow from other institutions.

Hayes, who has maintained his innocence, spent five and a half years in prison and was released in January 2021. Palombo was jailed for four years.

Additional reporting by agencies