Bankers worried over UK’s toughening stance toward financial offenders are offered a legal lifeline by a London law firm specialising in private prosecution service.
The banking community was rocked by the sentencing 3 August 2015 of Tom Hayers, 35, for rigging the London Interbank Offered Rate (Libor).
The 14 years in jail handed down to the former UBS and Citigroup yen derivatives trader was seen by some City circles as too harsh. But the UK government, financial regulatory authorities and law enforcement agencies saw it as a test case for the frequently frustrated Serious Fraud Office. The SFO is often accused by hardliners of being too soft on the high-end fraudsters.
The Economist reflected the mood in the City somewhat. “You could keep a brothel, deal in firearms and engage in ‘wanton or furious driving’ all at the same time and still end up with a prison sentence shorter than that received by Tom Hayes, the former trader who on August 3rd copped a 14-year term for market-rigging.”
The severity of the punishment, the newsmagazine added, can be surpassed in Britain only by those for rape, drug-dealing and murder—for which offenders can face a lifetime behind bars, though it points out that prisoners can be eligible for parole following a fixed-term, set at the judge’s discretion.
Convicted of eight counts of conspiracy to defraud, Hayes is the first person to be sentenced to jail by a jury for rigging the Libor interest rate.
There are many bankers in the UK who are now desperate for legal advice and are in need of a Private Prosecution Service, says ELS Legal, which has teamed with barrister Jeremy Rosenberg (pictured) to offer financial individuals the Private Prosecution Service.
Asked for the service’s relevance to Middle East financial institutions and individuals based in the City, Richard Spector (pictured), Partner at ELS Legal, offered The Middle East in Europe an emailed comment: “MENA bankers, similarly to other bankers that have been involved in scandals such as Libor rigging, are at risk of civil and criminal claims.
“Whilst civil claims are likely to be aimed at the banks themselves, the risk for bankers is that someone with deep pockets who wants to see justice, particularly after Tom Hayes’ conviction, could target individual bankers with a private prosecution as a means of getting their own back and putting pressure on the bank,” added Spector.
City analysts agree Hayes will likely serve half his sentence, or seven years. That will be double the penalty handed to Nick Leeson, the derivatives broker who brought down Barings in 1995, was released by Singapore due to illness and is now a talking celebrity. Other financial traders including Kweku Adoboli (ex-UBS Global Synthetic Equities) and Jerome Kerviel (ex-Société Générale) have also had their prison sentences reduced.