Traders question credibility of Libor expert witness
FORMER Barclays traders convicted of rigging Libor are attacking the credibility of an expert witness for the prosecution who texted friends during breaks in his testimony for help to describe banking terms.
Lawyers for convicted traders Jonathan Mathew and Alex Pabon said statements by the witness, Saul Haydon Rowe, on how Libor works, were crucial to the jury’s understanding of their case. They’re getting a boost from a colleague who was acquitted in a related trial, Ryan Reich, and has asked a different set of UK prosecutors to investigate Rowe’s conduct.
Any findings by an appellate court or prosecutors on Rowe’s credibility could impact all of the Serious Fraud Office’s (SFO) convictions related to the London interbank offered rate, because Rowe testified in all of the SFO trials. That includes Tom Hayes, the former Citigroup and UBS Group trader, whose trial made Libor a familiar word outside the banking world.
Libor is a key benchmark used to value trillions of dollars worth of financial products.
Pabon has lodged an appeal with Rowe’s evidence a “key” part of that challenge, his lawyer John Milner said.
Mathew exhausted his appeals route last year, so he would need the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC) – an independent organisation set up to investigate suspected miscarriages of justice – to take his case and submit an appeal. Hayes has also referred his case to the CCRC.
“We are very seriously considering his position,” said Matthew Frankland, a lawyer for Mathew, who was sentenced to four years in prison in 2016.
“We are deeply troubled by the revelations surrounding the evidence of Saul Haydon Rowe, which on any view was central to the technical understanding that the jury formed about the operation of Libor.”
During Reich’s trial, his lawyer attempted to have Rowe’s evidence thrown out by accusing him of misrepresenting his expertise. The trial judge, however, never went that far, telling jury members that they had to decide if Rowe had “sufficient expertise” to testify and if they weren’t convinced, they should “disregard it.”
Rowe denied at the time he misled the SFO and jurors about his expertise, though he did acknowledge texting traders he knew for help on some terms while on the witness stand.
Rowe wrote a report for the SFO that was used in all four trials called “Libor and Interest Rate Markets, Products, Concept and Terminology” to help it explain complex trading concepts to the jury.
“This is a matter for Saul, he has resigned from our business so we cannot comment,” according to a spokesperson for Turing Experts, Rowe’s employer throughout the Libor probe. The SFO defended the integrity of the trials.
“As in all cases, expert witnesses are independent of the SFO and subject to a detailed regime of professional obligations,” a spokesperson for the SFO said. “The prosecution witnesses in each of the trials have been cross-examined at length by the defence.”
Lawyers for Reich, who was acquitted by a jury after a retrial in April, said in a report sent to the National Crime Agency (NCA) that Rowe’s failings went beyond the questioning of his credibility.
“There are good grounds to suspect that Rowe has committed serious criminal offences, including fraud by failing to disclose information, fraud by false representation and perverting the course of justice,” the lawyers from Hickman and Rose said in a report sent to the NCA on April 28.
An investigation “is plainly in the public interest.”
The NCA, which specialises in investigating organised crime, said that it was in contact with Reich’s lawyers. – Bloomberg