March 18, 2016 / 10:29 AM / 2 years ago

UK prosecutors granted arrest warrants for Euribor Five

A sign is displayed in an unmarked Serious Fraud Office vehicle parked outside a building, in Mayfair, central London March 9, 2011. REUTERS/Andrew Winning

LONDON (Reuters) - British prosecutors have been granted warrants for the arrest of four Germans and a Frenchman they want to bring to London to face charges of conspiracy to rig Euribor benchmark interest rates.

The move sets the scene for a high-profile extradition battle at a time when critics are again questioning the Serious Fraud Office’s (SFO) ability to tackle white collar crime.

James Waddington, a lawyer for the SFO, told Southwark Crown Court on Friday that lawyers for four former Deutsche Bank colleagues; Kai-Uwe Kappauf, Joerg Vogt, Andreas Hauschild and Ardalan Gharagozlou and former Societe Generale trader Stephane Esper had been informed about the European Arrest Warrants, which were granted by Westminster Magistrates’ Court.

Lawyers for Vogt and Hauschild declined to comment. Lawyers for Kappauf and Gharagozlou did not respond to requests for comment. Esper did not respond to a telephone call. Deutsche Bank, which still employs Hauschild, declined to comment. SocGen did not respond to a request for comment.

On Jan. 11 the five declined a requisition request to attend London’s Westminster Magistrates’ Court to be charged with conspiracy to defraud in relation to their alleged role in manipulating Euribor (euro interbank offered rate).

The SFO had planned to charge 10 men and one woman with a plot to rig Euribor which, like Libor (London interbank offered rate), is a benchmark for rates on trillions of dollars worth of financial products and loans.

In the meantime, its Euribor case continues against six other former bankers who have already been charged.

Defendants include Singapore-based Christian Bittar, a former star Deutsche Bank trader who was charged with conspiracy to defraud along with former Barclays traders Philippe Moryoussef, Colin Bermingham‎, Sisse Bohart and Carlo Palombo as well as Achim Kraemer, who is still employed by Deutsche.

Lawyers for Kraemer, Palombo and Bittar have previously said their clients denied the allegations, while others did not respond to requests for comment. Barclays declined to comment.

The criminal proceedings come after Deutsche Bank, Barclays and Societe Generale admitted their involvement in a Euribor cartel in 2013 in a European Commission investigation.

The Commission fined Deutsche and SocGen a total of $1 billion (£690 million) and two years later, U.S. and British authorities fined the German bank another $2.5 billion and its London subsidiary pleaded guilty to rate-rigging.

Barclays received immunity for revealing the alleged cartel in the Brussels investigation but paid $453 million to U.S. and British authorities to settle rate-rigging allegations in 2012.

Additional reporting by Maya Nikolaeva in Paris, Jonathan Gould in Frankfurt; Editing by Rachel Armstrong and Alexander Smith

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