Libor rigging trial begins

Tom Hayes, a former trader on trial for allegedly conspiring to rig benchmark interest rates, has admitted to being motivated by greed and was fired by U.S. bank Citigroup in 2010, the prosecution told a London court on Tuesday.

Hayes is the first person to be prosecuted over manipulation of the London interbank offered rate (Libor) after a seven-year, global inquiry that has seen banks and brokerages pay around $9 billion in fines and sparked an overhaul of how financial benchmarks such as Libor are policed.

Opening the case for the prosecuting Serious Fraud Office (SFO), senior lawyer Mukul Chawla told the court that Hayes, 35, was at the epicenter of a conspiracy to rig Libor interest rates and admitted during 82 hours of interviews with prosecutors that he had put his trading book and pay above other concerns.

"In his own words, he was greedy," Chawla told the jury, alleging that between 2006 and 2010, Hayes set out to manipulate Libor at his bank and others on an "almost daily basis".

The former yen derivatives trader is charged with eight counts of conspiracy to defraud between 2006 and 2010, a criminal offense that carries a maximum jail sentence of 10 years.

He has pleaded not guilty and his defense team has yet to respond to the allegations in court.

The high-profile trial is expected to last 10-12 weeks and the courtroom was packed on Tuesday with members of the media taking seats in the dock, usually reserved for the accused.

Hayes, who has been diagnosed with mild Asperger's, a mild form of Autism, was given leave to sit with his solicitor, so he could more easily instruct his legal team. He sat making notes and occasionally shook his head and frowned at comments made by the prosecutor.

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Kirstin Ridley, Reuters