Interest rate rigger Tom Hayes said he was ‘ecstatic’ after criminal charges against him in the US were dropped.
The 43-year-old Briton, who was sentenced to 11 years in prison in the UK for manipulating the Libor rate during his time as a trader for UBS, is now urging judges in the UK to reconsider his conviction.
Two Deutsche Bank traders, accused of similar crimes to Hayes, had their convictions overturned by the US courts earlier this year.
‘Like a dream’: Tom Hayes with wife Sarah and son Joshua
The court ruled that Gavin Black, who worked in the London office, and his New York-based colleague Matthew Connolly, who were charged in 2016 with wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire and bank fraud, should have their convictions lifted after the US government failed to show that any of their actions had been ‘false, fraudulent or misleading’.
It means the UK is the only country to still brand bankers involved in the Libor affair as criminals.
As the US court published its decision to drop charges against him yesterday, Hayes said: ‘I’m ecstatic to get this decision. It feels almost like I’m in a dream.’
Describing the UK’s position as ‘demonstrably absurd’, he added: ‘The US Department of Justice has seen fit to dismiss charges based on the same facts, evidence and case in law that the UK courts used to justify my 11-year prison sentence.
‘That alone should be grounds enough for these cases to be referred back to the Court of Appeal in the UK – and if need be to the Supreme Court, which is yet to hear the case.’
Hayes, a father of one who has Asperger’s syndrome, was the first to be convicted by a jury of leading a conspiracy to defraud by fixing the Libor rate in August 2015.
During his trial, he said colleagues called him Rain Man – a reference to the autistic savant played by Dustin Hoffman in the 1988 film of the same name – ‘basically because I was different’, and that he ‘didn’t get’ a lot of jokes and still had a superhero duvet cover aged 24.
He was freed from jail in 2021 after serving half of his sentence.
But he still maintains his innocence, claiming he was made a scapegoat by his seniors and the Serious Fraud Office, which wanted to be seen to be doing something as public sentiment turned against bankers following the financial crisis.
Speaking after his release last year, Hayes told the BBC: ‘At the time it was expedient that, for political reasons, a banker went to prison and I was that banker. I was given an egregious sentence and my life destroyed.
‘This wasn’t an easy sentence. In that time, I lost my mind, I lost my mental health.
‘I suffered deep bouts of depression. I harboured suicidal thoughts often.
‘I was very angry and bitter. I struggled with my emotions.’
After the US ruling yesterday, he added: ‘At last, after ten years the threat of extradition to the USA for doing my job legitimately as a trader has been lifted. It is now time for the UK to examine the convictions of all traders.
‘The UK is now the sole jurisdiction that deems our conduct to have been criminal.’
The Libor affair, which came to a head during the 2008-09 crisis, rocked financial markets. Hundreds of trillions of financial products, including mortgages and student loans, were priced by reference to the rate.
Libor was set by asking 16 banks each day what interest rate they could borrow at, and taking the average.
But Hayes and other bankers were accused of submitting ‘high’ or ‘low’ estimates to suit their employers’ trades.
Banks around the world were fined more than £7billion for their participation in the ‘manipulation’, and nine individuals were jailed in the UK for a total of more than 50 years.
In January 2015, during Hayes’ case, Lord Justice Davies said it was ‘self-evident’ that traders’ highball or lowball offers were against the rules of the Libor system – despite the fact that there were no written regulations about it when the submissions were made.
Libor, now discredited, has been largely phased out – but Hayes wants his name cleared.
He has asked the UK’s Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC), which investigates miscarriages of justice, to refer his case back to the Court of Appeal. Its final decision is imminent.