Former UBS and Citigroup trader Tom Hayes (also nicknamed “Rainman”) wanted “to do job perfectly,” he stated Tueday as the first LIBOR trial case to bring a defendant under fire gets underway. Tom Hayes, as reported by Reuters today was the first person to face trial by jury over allegations he conspired to rig global LIBOR interest rates. He was quoted during court on Tuesday saying he had not acted dishonestly and just wanted to do a good job. He appeared before the Southwark Crown Court.
“Basically, I was petrified,” Mr. Hayes said, it is understood that he feared facing charges in the United States that might carry jail sentences of up to 20-30 years. By admitting to wrongdoing in the UK, Hayes said he believed he was ensuring his case would be heard in Britain where max time served could be 10 years.
Mr. Hayes was formally charged in summer 2013 by City of London Police with eight counts of fraud. Britain’s Serious Fraud Office (SFO) alleges Hayes set up a network of brokers and traders that spanned some of the world’s most powerful financial institutions to influence LIBOR rates — designed to reflect the cost of inter-bank borrowing — for his own fiduciary benefit.
According to the transcripts of Hayes’s interviews with the SFO after his arrest in December 2012, Hayes said he was extremely open about trying to influence rates, his managers knew what he was doing and that the practice was widespread.
Based in Tokyo, Hayes traded in yen-denominated derivatives tied to LIBOR — the London interbank offered rate that determines the prices of around $450 trillion of financial contracts and loans worldwide. Small movements in the rate could translate into big profits or losses for his trading book.
Hayes was diagnosed in May by an independent medical expert with mild Asperger’s Syndrome — a form of autism — and has been allowed to sit with his legal team and an independent intermediary while the prosecution laid out its case. The glass-enclosed security dock, where defendants more usually sit, has instead been used by journalists as it affords a better view of proceedings than the public gallery.
Judge Jeremy Cooke started the day by telling the jury that people with Hayes’ condition often did not detect shades of grey but tended to see the world in black and white.
Pictured above: Tom Hayes, Courtesy of Times Newspapers Limited