Trader charged in manipulation of Libor rate

Danica Kirka, Associated Press
Trader charged in manipulation of Libor rate

FILE - The financial center of Canary Wharf just outside the boundary of the City of London is seen through the Thames Barrier at night on Friday, Dec. 28, 2012. The low-lying city has long been vulnerable to flooding - particularly when powerful storms send seawater racing up the River Thames. But the 570-yard-long (half-a-kilometer-long) barrier, composed of 10 massive steel gates, each five stories high when raised against high water, has been in operation since 1982. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant, File)

LONDON (AP) -- Britain's Serious Fraud Office has charged a former trader with conspiracy to defraud in the rigging of a benchmark interest rate.

The UK's official financial crimes investigator says Tom Hayes, a former trader at UBS and Citigroup, was charged Tuesday 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.

He will appear before Westminster Magistrates' Court at a later date.

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 international banks submit estimates of what it costs them to borrow. Regulators in the U.S., Britain, Switzerland and other countries allege some banks submitted fake numbers on purpose to have the LIBOR set at a rate that better suited them.

U.S. and British regulators have fined two big British banks and Switzerland's largest lender hundreds of millions of dollars for manipulating LIBOR.