Libor rigging: Former trader tells court he wanted to do his job as “perfectly as he could“

Tom Hayes, the first person to face trial by jury for allegedly conspiring to rig global Libor interest rates, told a London court yesterday that he had not acted dishonestly and just wanted to do his job as "perfectly as he could".

The 35-year-old former UBS and Citigroup star trader, who took the stand for the first time in the high-profile trial at Southwark Crown Court, said he had only admitted to wrongdoing in interviews with British officials as he wanted to avoid extradition to the US.

He told the court that he had admitted to dishonesty with UK investigators in the months after his arrest in December 2012 in the hope that UK charges would protect him from a tougher US sentence.

According to Hayes who had pleaded not guilty to eight counts of conspiracy to defraud between 2006 and 2010, said he initially  cooperated with the UK's Serious Fraud Office (SFO) out of panic after seeing Lanny Breuer and Eric Holder, two of the most powerful lawyers in the US at the time, announce he had been criminally charged on 19 December 2012.

"I was frozen with fear ... basically I was petrified. I faced three counts and each count carried a 20 or 30 year sentence," Hayes told the court.

Hayes termed ''requests'' he made to colleagues and brokers in other financial firms about setting the Libor rate at specific levels as ''chancing my arm''.

''Was what you did clandestine?'' defence counsel, Neil Hawes, QC, asked.

''No, it was very consistent,'' Hayes said. ''Everything I did was in complete transparency with my line managers and direct managers. There was never anything I did that my managers were not aware of,'' he claimed.

The 35-year-old from Fleet in Hampshire, told Southwark Crown Court that he did not believe he had acted dishonestly.

The prosecution alleges Hayes entered into a conspiracy with others to fix Libor rates to advantage his own financial dealings, to the disadvantage of those who were doing deals with him.

However, denying entering into an agreement with others, he said he did not even know some of them. 

It was claimed that when his former bosses at Citigroup came to know about what he was doing, he was placed under investigation – but Hayes claimed he was confused about why he was being questioned.