LONDON, April 27 (Reuters) - Barclays’ investment bank’s chief operating officer Michael Bagguley told a London court that he had never sought to influence Libor benchmark interest rates, instructed others to do so, or seen any evidence of manipulation.
Former Barclays traders Stylianos Contogoulas, Jay Merchant, Alex Pabon and Ryan Reich and former Barclays rate submitter Jonathan Mathew have all pleaded not guilty to a charge of conspiracy to defraud by manipulating U.S. dollar Libor rates between June 2005 and September 2007.
Britain’s Serious Fraud Office (SFO) alleges the five men dishonestly agreed to procure or make submissions of rates in the dollar Libor-setting process which were false or misleading in order to benefit their trading positions.
Bagguley, a Barclays veteran who was appearing as a prosecution witness, dismissed a suggestion he was denying knowledge of the alleged activity because he feared prosecution.
“I suggest you did know and are simply denying it,” Hugh Davies, a lawyer representing Merchant, told Wednesday’s court hearing.
Bagguley denied Davies’ suggestion that he only realised that attempts to try and influence Libor rates were wrong after the bank launched an internal investigation and settled regulatory allegations of wrongdoing in 2012.
“Given your understanding of Libor at the time, I suggest you would not at the time have considered it improper,” Davies said.
“I would have done,” replied Bagguley.
On April 7, the prosecution told the court that Merchant, the former line manager of Pabon and Reich, alleged to the SFO in March 2014 that his Barclays bosses, including Bagguley, had known of and approved the practice of seeking to influence the bank’s Libor rates.
Davies said the jury had been presented with files of evidence that showed various attempts by traders to influence rates while Bagguley was a senior executive in New York.
But Bagguley said from the material he had seen during subsequent investigations, he was only aware of one such example, which involved Merchant.
Barclays declined to comment.
The high-profile trial, the third Libor case to be put before a jury by the SFO after a four-year investigation, is scheduled to last 12 weeks. (Editing by Alexander Smith)