Acting Business Editor for the NZ Herald

NZ broker acquitted in Libor rigging trial

Darrell Read pleaded not guilty to two charges of conspiracy to defraud. Photo / AP
Darrell Read pleaded not guilty to two charges of conspiracy to defraud. Photo / AP

A Wellington man accused of helping to rig benchmark banking rates has been cleared of all wrongdoing by a London jury.

British ex-pat Darrell Read, 50, was acquitted of a charge for conspiracy to defraud by a majority verdict overnight.

His five co-accused were cleared of the same charges a day earlier by the jury in London's Southwark Crown Court.

Read and five other currency brokers were accused of helping convicted trader Tom Hayes rig Libor, a benchmark interest rate which is a key part of the relationship between borrowers and lenders around the world.

Read, who used to work for London brokerage ICAP, moved to New Zealand in 2007 with his family.

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"I'm just incredibly relieved," Read told Bloomberg, which said he was holding back tears.
"I'm looking forward to seeing my wife now."

His fellow defendants - Noel Cryan, Colin Goodman, Danny Wilkinson, Terry Farr and James Gilmour - returned to the court to support Read and cheered when the verdict was announced.

The men all denied conspiring to manipulate Libor for the benefit of Hayes, the trader serving an 11-year jail sentence after becoming the first person ever to be convicted over the rigging of Libor.

Libor - which stands for London interbank offered rate - sets the scene for banks, international financiers, mortgage lenders, credit card companies or anyone wanting to raise funds through the interest rate markets.

A British banking trade group sets the Libor every morning after international banks submit estimates of what it costs them to borrow.

Prosecutors argued that the men on trial helped Hayes by asking traders at other banks to try move the rate by changing their submissions.

The court heard that Read went by the nickname "Big Nose" , Goodman was called "Lord Libor" and Wilkinson "Sarge".

It was said the brokers were offered takeaway curry, beer and restaurant meals in return for allegedly helping to fix Libor.

The jury heard that Read told Lord Libor: "Can you please get three and six-month [Libor rates] as high as is possible today. We'll sort you out with a curry takeaway next week in recognition of your efforts. Thanks mate."

In another email exchange, Read allegedly promised Goodman "copious amounts of curry" in return for manipulating the rates.

Libor explained:
Libor - or London interbank offered rate - is woven into the fabric of the world's capital markets.

The rate sets the price for banks, international financiers or anyone wanting to raise funds through the interest rate markets.

From major international deals through to home mortgages, Libor is key to the relationship between borrowers and lenders globally.

Financial instruments worth hundreds of trillions of dollars are tied to Libor.

A British banking trade group sets the Libor every morning after international banks submit estimates of borrowing costs.

Libor became engulfed in scandal after the global financial crisis and allegations emerged that banks had rigged these rates.

A string of financial institutions have paid billions in settlements.

- NZ Herald

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