UK

Banker Tom Hayes' 14-Year Prison Term For Libor Rigging Sparks Fiery Debate

04/08/2015 13:30 BST | Updated 04/08/2015 13:59 BST
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Thomas 'Tom' Hayes, a former trader at banks including UBS Group AG and Citigroup Inc., arrives for his trial at Southwark Crown Court in London, U.K., on Monday, August, 3, 2015. Hayes is charged with eight counts of conspiracy to manipulate the London interbank offered rate, the benchmark used to value more than $350 trillion of loans and securities. Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Debates are raging on social media over the 14-year-sentence handed down to convicted Libor-rate rigger Tom Hayes earlier this week.

Passing the former city trader's verdict at Southwark crown court on Monday, Mr Justice Cooke said Hayes had "succumbed to temptation" and that his activities had an "absence of that integrity which ought to characterise banking".

But the length of Hayes' sentence, awarded for eight charges of conspiracy to defraud, has proven divisive - many people split on the fairness of the 35-year-old's fate.

There is contention over his sentence compared to those convicted of other, more "brutal", crimes.

Perpetrators can face up to 14 years in jail for burglary with intent to commit rape, abduction of a woman by force, sexual assault of child under 13, and aggravated vehicle taking resulting in death, among other crimes.

Convicted lawbreakers who faced the same jail stint as Hayes include a sex trafficker dubbed 'The Snake' who ran a brothel empire involving more than 100 women; a youth worker who sexually abused two schoolboys; and a 24-year-old man who attacked his victim with a machete, leaving him permanently disabled.

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Hayes worked at UBS for three years and Citigroup for nine months, where he was paid £1.3m and £3.5m respectively. It was at the latter company in September 2010 where he was fired over allegations of manipulating the Libor rate.

After initially pleading guilty to the charges brought to him by the Serious Fraud Office (SFO), Hayes later reversed his plea claiming to have been “frozen with fear” at the prospect of extradition to the US and potential jail time and so wanted to cooperate with the authorities.

He instead opted to challenge the legal proceedings brought against him and presented himself as someone who admitted wrongdoing but within the wider context of systemic Libor manipulation. Offering a “Mars bar” would have been enough to have it “set wherever you want,” he said during the trial.

The banker also claimed his recently diagnosed and “mild” form of Asperger’s syndrome hindered his ability to make the correct ethical decision.

Eleven others have been charged by the SFO.