PARIS (Reuters) - A French former trader with Barclays who was convicted in absentia in London last year of participating in a scheme to rig global interest rates has challenged Britain in the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR).
Philippe Moryoussef, who was sentenced to eight years in prison, took Britain to the Strasbourg court on June 25 “for violating the principle of legality in criminal law and his right to a fair trial”, his lawyer David De Castro said on Monday.
The Moroccan-born trader was found guilty last year of conspiracy to defraud by dishonestly manipulating the benchmark Euribor rate (euro interbank offered rate) for profit between January 2005 and December 2009.
He was sentenced alongside compatriot Christian Bittar, a former Deutsche Bank trader, who had pleaded guilty before the trial began.
Moryoussef left for France after news of his co-defendant’s guilty plea became public - one of the reasons for his Strasbourg case - and remains there as no warrant for his arrest had been issued, De Castro said.
In February, a higher British court refused to allow him to appeal.
“Given the unfairness of this procedure, Mr Philippe Moryoussef informed the court that he was compelled to refuse to appear at the conviction trial,” his lawyer said on Monday.
“Moryoussef’s right to appeal the sentence pronounced in violation of his fundamental rights was denied by the UK courts on 6 February 2019.”
The ECHR’s communications department was not able to confirm Moryoussef’s application as of Monday.
During the 2018 trial, prosecutors cast Bittar and Moryoussef as the ringleaders of an international interbank scam in which the banks submitting current rates were asked to nudge them up or down to bolster trading books.
Even a change of 0.01 percentage point in the resulting calculation of the daily Euribor reference rate could trigger huge profits in financial instruments pegged to the rate.
Both men said they believed they were doing nothing wrong. Bittar received a sentence of five years and four months.
Authorities around the world have fined leading banks and brokerages about $9 billion and charged about 30 people over rate-rigging allegations, though some have been acquitted.
Reporting by Inti Landauro and Kirstin Ridley; Editing by Kevin Liffey and Mark Potter