LONDON (Reuters) - A former Barclays (BARC.L) banker charged with conspiring to manipulate Euribor benchmark interest rates told a London court on Tuesday that he could not remember receiving requests from traders for rates that would benefit their trading books.
But Colin Bermingham, a one-time senior rate submitter, told Southwark Crown Court that he would have accommodated Barclays traders if their requests were in line with the price for cash he saw in the market.
“I can’t remember receiving any of those requests,” the 61-year-old said when cross-examined by prosecutor Emma Deacon, for the Serious Fraud Office (SFO).
Bermingham is the second defendant to testify in the trial of bankers over alleged misconduct when setting the euro interbank offered rate (Euribor), which determines the rates on trillions of financial contracts and loans worldwide.
Four ex-Barclays bankers and a Deutsche Bank (DBKGn.DE) employee are charged with conspiracy to defraud by dishonestly manipulating Brussels-based Euribor rates between 2005 and 2009.
Bermingham, Philippe Moryoussef, a former senior trader who is being tried in absentia, Italian-born Carlo Palombo, Sisse Bohart, a Dane, and Frankfurt-based Deutsche employee Achim Kraemer deny the charge.
Rates such as Euribor are submitted by major banks each day and were designed to reflect their estimated cost of borrowing in different currencies over various time frames. The prosecution alleges such rates should not be submitted with an eye on a bank’s commercial interest.
Deacon said Bermingham had often responded over the bank’s communication systems to trader requests for higher or lower rates with: “sure” and “will do”.
But in May 2009, Barclays called a meeting at which staff from the money desk and compliance were told that rate submitters should not listen to trader requests when deciding what numbers to submit, the court was told.
“How did you think about what you had been doing when you found out...?” Deacon asked.
“I don’t remember feeling one way or another about it,” Bermingham said, adding staff had been told that accommodating trader requests was “something we shouldn’t be doing going forward”.
Reporting by Kirstin Ridley; Editing by Alexander Smith