Traders ques­tion cred­i­bil­ity of Li­bor ex­pert wit­ness

The Star Early Edition - - NEWS - Jeremy Hodges

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.

Cred­i­bil­ity

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.”

Re­trial

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

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