Libor families step up fight against SFO
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.