Li­bor fam­i­lies step up fight against SFO

The Sunday Telegraph - Money & Business - - Front page - By Lucy Bur­ton

THREE con­victed Li­bor traders have stepped up ef­forts to clear their names by telling MPS the de­ba­cle sur­round­ing the Se­ri­ous Fraud Of­fice’s (SFO) choice of ex­pert wit­ness is “not an iso­lated in­ci­dent”.

The fam­i­lies of ex-bar­clays bankers Alex Pabon and Jay Mer­chant, who were jailed in 2016 for at­tempt­ing to ma­nip­u­late the in­ter­est rate bench­mark, as well as Tom Hayes, the first per­son con­victed of rig­ging the rate, have been em­bold­ened by the fi­asco sur­round­ing the SFO’S use of ex­pert wit­ness Saul Rowe. It emerged that he had texted friends for help un­der­stand­ing ba­sic trad­ing terms dur­ing the tri­als.

The agency was forced to de­fend its use of Mr Rowe to the Court of Ap­peal last Novem­ber, ar­gu­ing that the wit­ness failed to act with “in­tegrity” and there­fore there was no fail­ure on its part.

How­ever, in a let­ter sent to the Jus­tice Com­mit­tee and seen by The Sunday Tele­graph, the fam­i­lies of the three ex-bankers re­buffed the sug­ges­tion that Mr Rowe was the only ill-fit­ted ex­pert used by the SFO.

The let­ter crit­i­cised the SFO’S choice of a psy­chol­o­gist and psy­chi­a­trist that they be­lieve did not spe­cialise in autism when ad­dress­ing Tom Hayes’ di­ag­no­sis of Asperger’s syn­drome, a form of autism, in 2015. It said that Pro­fes­sor Si­mon Baron-co­hen, a di­rec­tor at the Autism Re­search Cen­tre in Cam- bridge, has now di­ag­nosed his con­di­tion as se­vere. Mr Hayes is try­ing to over­turn his con­vic­tion partly on the ba­sis that he be­lieves he did not have a fair trial be­cause of his di­ag­no­sis.

A judge called the SFO’S use of Mr Rowe a “de­ba­cle” dur­ing a hear­ing brought by Mr Pabon late last year. The out­come of his ap­peal could have huge con­se­quences on Mr Mer­chant and Mr Hayes given Mr Rowe pro­vided ev­i­dence in each of their tri­als.

A hear­ing in Lon­don last week also saw for­mer UBS trader Arif Hus­sein fight to over­turn his ban from the City over al­leged ma­nip­u­la­tion of the bench­mark, which erupted in 2012. The SFO de­clined to com­ment.

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