London trader charged in Libor-fixing scandal

The Serious Fraud Office has charged a former trader with conspiracy to defraud in the rigging of a benchmark interest rate.

The UK’s financial crimes investigator said Tom Hayes, a former trader at UBS and Citigroup, was charged yesterday as part of the investigation into the manipulation of the London interbank offered rate, or Libor.

City of London police charged the 33-year-old with eight counts of conspiracy to defraud. Hayes specialized in products pegged to yen-dominated Libor and worked in offices in London and Tokyo.

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The charges follow an investigation opened last year after Barclays was fined $435 million by American and British agencies for creating false reports on its borrowing costs between 2005 and 2009, specifically related the interbank rate.

Libor is the critical rate banks use to borrow from each other. It indirectly affects the cost people pay when they take out loans - such as when consumers buy a home or car.

The British Bankers’ Association, a trade group, sets the Libor daily after a dozen banks submit estimates of what it costs them to borrow. Regulators allege some banks submitted fake numbers on purpose to have the Libor set at a rate that better suited them.