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Lawyers slam SFO disclosure failings for ‘miscarriage of justice’ in Tom Hayes Libor conviction

by Alexandra Rogers

Tom Hayes is serving 11 years in prison (Source: Getty)

The legal team for convicted Libor trader Tom Hayes has slammed the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) for a series of disclosure failings they say led to a miscarriage of justice and his wrongful conviction.

Hayes’s lawyer Karen Todner has written to parliament’s Justice Committee urging it to probe the SFO as part of an inquiry it launched earlier this year, because “the police and the Crown Prosecution Service are not the only bodies capable of producing miscarriages of justice”.

Hayes, a former UBS and Citi trader, was the first person to be convicted for manipulating the London Interbank Offered rate (Libor), which determines the rate charged to banks for borrowing from each other. He is currently serving an 11-year sentence at Nottingham’s Lowdham Grange prison after his appeals in the Court of Appeal failed.

His case is currently with the criminal cases review commission.

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Crucial to the prosecution’s case was the argument that traders acted “dishonestly” by submitting rates that took into account the commercial interests of the banks they worked at.

However, the letter from Hayes’ lawyers accuses the SFO of failing to disclose minutes of a meeting by Libor body the Foreign Exchange and Money Markets Committee (FXMMC) that showed members were of the view that banks were allowed to take into account their commercial interests.

Among the members recorded in the meeting was a key SFO witness, the former British Bankers Association [now UK Finance] director John Ewan, who, according to the letter, is accused of giving evidence in court that directly contradicted the notes of the FXMMC meeting he attended.

“Most regrettably, Mr Ewan gave evidence in Libor one, two and three [trials] that was directly contrary to the content of the undisclosed FXMMC meeting minute in what was, at times, evidence under oath that seemed entirely implausible given the nature of the contents of Mr Ewan’s own inbox,” the letter says.

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It also accuses the SFO of failing to obtain eight million pieces of potentially relevant evidence from Zurich, where UBS Libor submissions were made and where most of the senior management was based. UBS declined to disclose these on the basis of Swiss banking and privacy laws.

“The failure to obtain and then disclose such relevant evidence is all the more alarming in view of the failure to disclose unused evidence regarding the written policies and spreadsheets in use at UBS.”

“Mr Hayes, who is on the autistic spectrum, languishes in prison whilst the failures to make disclosure by the SFO are investigated. It is truly one of the greatest miscarriages of justice of our time,” the letter says.

Todner said: “Tom Hayes’ case represents one the greatest miscarriages of justice of our age. I hope the CCRC will act quickly to refer his conviction to the Court of Appeal for reconsideration.”

A spokesperson for the SFO added: “The Criminal Cases Review Commission is examining this and we stand ready to assist them.”

A spokesperson for UK finance declined to comment. Ewan was approached for comment.

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