LONDON (Reuters) - Former UBS and Citigroup trader Tom Hayes appeared in a London court on Thursday accused of conspiracy to defraud in connection with a global investigation into the Libor interest rate rigging scandal.
Hayes is the first suspect to face a court in an inquiry stretching from North America to Asia into how traders rigged crucial benchmark rates such as Libor (London interbank offered rate), against which trillions of dollars of loans are priced.
Dressed in a blue open-necked shirt and tan trousers, 33-year-old Hayes stood in the dock at London's Westminster Magistrates' Court to hear eight offences read out relating to his time at UBS and Citigroup in Japan between August 2006 and September 2010.
Prosecutors allege he conspired with employees from institutions including UBS, Citigroup, Royal Bank of Scotland, Deutsche Bank, JPMorgan Chase, HSBC, Rabobank and interdealer brokers ICAP, Tullett Prebon and RP Martin to manipulate rates.
Hayes spoke only to confirm his name and address and that he understood the charges against him. He was granted bail on condition he did not leave or attempt to leave the UK and told to appear at the higher Southwark Crown Court on July 4.
In a statement after the hearing, ICAP noted that an unnamed employee at one of its global subsidiaries had been referred to in court. "No ICAP company has been charged. ICAP has provided information to the SFO (Serious Fraud Office) and continues to cooperate with its investigation," it said.
Rabobank said it was cooperating with global investigations, noting that it had been named as a defendant in civil litigations pending in the U.S. involving Libor. "Rabobank intends to defend itself in these actions," it said.
RP Martin, UBS, Citigroup, Deutsche Bank, JPMorgan and RBS declined to comment. The other institutions named were not immediately available for comment.
The scandal, which has sparked public and political outrage and laid bare the failings of authorities and bank bosses, has to date seen regulators fine three banks a total of $2.6 billion (1.6 billion pounds) and prosecutors and police charge two men, including Hayes.
Hayes joined Swiss bank UBS in Tokyo in 2006, becoming a senior trader of interest-rate derivatives indexed to yen-denominated Libor.
In late 2009, he left UBS to join Citigroup in Tokyo. He left the U.S. bank less than a year later.
The U.S. Department of Justice charged Hayes last December with conspiracy, wire fraud and an antitrust violation, before the Serious Fraud Office made its charges.
British politicians have said a UK trial for British Libor suspects will help show the justice system is as capable of tackling white-collar crime as its U.S. peer.
(Reporting by Kirstin Ridley, editing by Alex Smith and Erica Billingham)