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11 Jan, 2016 18:07

Ex-Deutsche, Barclays bankers appear in court over ‘Euribor rigging’

Ex-Deutsche, Barclays bankers appear in court over ‘Euribor rigging’

A former senior trader at Deutsche Bank has been ordered to front £1 million in bail ahead of his trial for rate rigging, a London magistrates court has heard.

Christian Bittar, a French Singapore-based trader who was previously one of Deutsche Bank’s most lucrative money markets managers, appeared in Westminster Magistrates’ Court on Monday along with five of 11 individuals charged with plotting to rig the Euro Interbank Offered Rate (Euribor). 

Bittar, who was represented by Alexander Cameron, brother of British Prime Minister David Cameron, confirmed his name and address to the court. He also confirmed his date of birth as January 12, 1972.

Eleven ex-employees from Deutsche Bank, Barclays and Société Générale have been accused of conspiring to rig Euribor, an international benchmark used to set interest rates on financial products such as mortgages.

Bittar was joined in court on Monday by former Deutsche Bank colleague Achim Kraemer, 51. However, other Deutsche Bank colleagues also facing charges, such as Andreas Hauschild, Jörg Vogt, Kai-Uwe Kappauf and Ardalan Gharagozlou, did not attend.

Also in the dock were ex-Barclays employees Colin Bermingham, Carlo Palombo, Philippe Moryoussef and Sisse Bohart, the only woman to stand accused of rigging Euribor.

Deputy Chief Magistrate Emma Arbuthnot confirmed the case would be transferred to Southwark Crown Court for a hearing on Wednesday morning at 09.30 GMT. However, no firm indication was given as to when the trial would officially begin.

The court was told the case involved collusion to rig the rates between separate banks, as well as collusion between individuals at the same bank.

The scandal was originally uncovered during the 2008 financial crash, after US regulators conducted several probes. Subsequent cross-border investigations resulted in brokerages and banks doling out roughly $9 billion (£6.2 billon) in regulatory settlements, and over 30 people being charged.

The ex-traders and banking staff who appeared in court on Monday spanned multiple nationalities and were resident in several different states. None of the defendants who attended the hearing issued a formal plea against the charges. Britain’s Serious Fraud Office (SFO) did not request arrest warrants for those who failed to attend.

Prior to the hearing, lawyers representing Bittar and Hauschild told the Guardian their clients would deny the allegations strenuously. Lawyers for Vogt and Palombo explicitly declined to comment, while others failed to respond to requests for a statement.

The Euro Interbank Offered Rate (Euribor) forms a vital means for European banks to calculate lending decisions in a market worth billions of euros.

Monday’s case is the latest involving interest rate rigging to reach Britain’s courts. Tom Hayes was the first banker to be convicted in Britain for manipulating the benchmark rate known as Libor (the London Interbank Offered Rate). He was sentenced in August. 

Numerous Libor and Euribor-rigging cases emerged after the 2008 global financial crisis. UBS, Lloyds, JP Morgan, Citigroup and ICAP were all previously fined following investigations.