LONDON, April 6 Two former Barclays
traders were on Thursday acquitted by a jury of conspiring to
rig crucial benchmark interest rates.
Ryan Reich, a 35-year-old American, and Greek national
Stylianos Contogoulas, 45, walked free after their second trial
on a charge of conspiracy to defraud. The first jury to examine
their case could not reach a verdict last year, although four
Barclays co-defendants were jailed.
The verdicts, which were unanimous, bring to eight the
number of defendants who have been acquitted in a five-year, UK
criminal investigation into whether bankers acted dishonestly
when they tried to influence benchmark interest rates.
The Serious Fraud Office had accused Reich and Contogoulas
of plotting with other Barclays staff between June 2005 and
September 2007 to skew Libor (London interbank offered rate), a
central cog in the financial system and benchmark for rates on
around $450 trillion of financial contracts and loans worldwide.
Barclays was the first of 11 powerful banks and brokerages
to be slapped with a fine for Libor misconduct in 2012, sparking
a political backlash that forced out senior executives including
former CEO Bob Diamond, prompted the SFO investigation and new
laws to criminalise rate rigging.
(Reporting By Kirstin Ridley; Editing by Rachel Armstrong)