(Adds quotes from brokers, lawyer, details)
By Kirstin Ridley
LONDON Jan 28 Former ICAP broker
Darrell Read was cleared by a London jury on Thursday of
conspiring with convicted trader Tom Hayes to rig Libor interest
rates, joining his five former co-defendants in the court's
public gallery to cheers and applause.
The 12-person jury, which on Wednesday unanimously cleared
Colin Goodman, Danny Wilkinson, Terry Farr, James Gilmour and
Noel Cryan, took less than an hour to also acquit Read of a
final count of conspiracy to defraud by a majority verdict.
The final verdict deals a significant blow to the Serious
Fraud Office (SFO) after a marathon, four-month trial that has
prompted some lawyers to urge the agency to re-examine its
evidence in two other prosecutions of people for alleged
financial benchmark rigging.
The five brokers already acquitted filed in to the court to
support Read, whose family is in New Zealand. "We've been
through a lot together," said Cryan, a former Tullett Prebon
Former RP Martin broker Terry Farr declared himself "over
the moon" (delighted) after the hearing outside court, as some
of the group headed to a pub to relax "for the first time in
"Apart from being acutely embarrassing to the SFO, these
verdicts show how difficult it is to demonstrate criminal
activity by individuals for this type of market misconduct,"
said Alison McHaffie, a partner with law firm CMS.
SFO head David Green said on Wednesday, after the first five
acquittals were announced, that he stood by the prosecution and
that "nobody could sensibly suggest that these charges should
not have been brought and considered by a jury."
The SFO merely noted Read's acquittal on Thursday.
The six men had been charged with conspiracy to defraud by
rigging the London interbank offered rate (Libor), which helps
determine borrowing costs for about $450 trillion of contracts
and consumer loans worldwide.
The world's third Libor trial comes more than seven years
after U.S. regulators first examined how Libor rates were set,
sowing the seeds of a global inquiry that led to authorities
fining leading banks and brokerages $9 billion, charging about
30 people and overhauling how financial benchmarks are policed.
It was held after the conviction of Hayes, a former star UBS
and Citigroup trader, who was jailed for 14
years in August for conspiracy to rig Libor. His sentence was
reduced to 11 years on appeal.
The SFO alleged the six former brokers were among those to
help Tokyo-based Hayes skew interbank borrowing rates to suit
his trading position by persuading their bank clients to nudge
rates according to his wishes.
Defence lawyers told the jury the defendants were low-level
scapegoats for a fundamentally flawed financial system, which
was self-governing, and that the trial was unfair and unjust.
Lawyers not directly involved in the case speculated that
the jury had reached such a speedy verdict partly because they
had sympathised with the brokers. Wilkinson also suffered a
suspected stroke during proceedings.
The SFO is also prosecuting a group of former Barclays
traders over Libor-related offences in a trial
scheduled for February. It and has also begun a case against six
individuals for alleged conspiracy to rig Euribor, the euro
equivalent of Libor.
That trial is not scheduled to come to trial before 2017.
Two former Rabobank traders were convicted of Libor-rigging
offences in the United States last November.
(Reporting By Kirstin Ridley, editing by Sinead Cruise and