London (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Five traders accused of rigging the Euribor lending rate “gamed the system” to get bigger bonuses, prosecutors said on Wednesday at a trial into a scandal that has led to hefty fines for banks.
The five defendants include one former trader at Deutsche Bank and four from Barclays, a British bank. One of the Barclays traders, a French citizen, has refused to attend the trial.
They are accused of manipulating the process used to set the Euribor, the euro interbank benchmark rate.
“During this case you will learn how a few individuals gamed the system to rip off a lot of people they did business with,” prosecutor James Waddington told the court.
“There are various reasons for these people behaving the way they did but money was at the heart of it,” he said.
Jurors heard that the rates were only shifted by a few hundredths of a percentage point but this had a major effect on a bank’s day-to-day trading because of the large sums involved.
A sixth defendant has pleaded guilty and five more people charged, who live outside Britain, have arrest warrants against them.
The trial in London, which is expected to last three months, is the first for Euribor-rigging.
But several banks have already had to pay hefty fines over Euribor-rigging in Britain and the United States, and the European Union has tightened legislation against market manipulation.