Libor rate-rigging allegations drove trader to breakdown, hearing told

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A City trader told how he was plunged into "the middle of a breakdown" over allegations of rigging Libor rates as he fought a legal bid to seize more than £2 million of assets following his conviction.

Tom Hayes and his wife Sarah Tighe could be forced to give up their £1.7 million house in Woldingham, Surrey, Mercedes-Benz car and even their wedding rings and her engagement ring to repay the money gained.

The 36-year-old, of Fleet, Hampshire, was convicted after trial last year of eight counts of conspiracy to defraud from 2006 to 2010, when he worked for UBS and Citigroup.

He was jailed for 14 years, reduced to 11 on appeal, for his part in the manipulation of the benchmark interest rates.

Giving evidence at a confiscation hearing at the Old Bailey, Hayes was asked if he was aggrieved by the jury verdict.

He said: "I do not know if aggrieved is the right word. Shock. Confused is another word I would use to describe it. At times angry - not with the jury but just generally."

He told the court that while working as a trader it was his job to make more money for whatever bank he was working for at the time but added: "I don't believe anything I did made significant profits for a bank."

Michael Parroy QC, for the Serious Fraud Office, asked if he had been "keen to enhance" his status as a trader.

Hayes replied: "I was not really bothered about status. I used to turn up at work with holes in my jumper looking like a tramp. I did not hobnob."

He "never really considered" that if he made a million dollars for his bank, that others might try to poach him, although he did confirm being offered "a quite standard" 4.5 million US dollars (£3.1 million) by investment bank Goldman Sachs.

While he worked at UBS in 2009, he felt underpaid while bonuses were "diametrically opposed" to how much he made for the bank, he said.

Quoting Winston Churchill, he described the UBS bonus scheme as a "riddle wrapped up in an enigma".

Mr Parroy asked: "Did you ever offer reward to somebody from your own pocket if they were prepared to manipulate Libor?"

Hayes replied: "Not that I recall. I do not class a meal as a reward, would you?

"When you are talking about coffees and curries, all these things that occurred were between people who have been acquitted."

The trader was quizzed about where the money came from to buy his £1,218,000 home at the end of 2011.

Hayes told the court it was "hard to delineate" funds to buy the house, saying there was some "intermingling" of finances between him and his wife.

He said his parents had contributed £30,000 and he had £80,000 saved up from before he went to Japan.

The court has heard Hayes and his wife carried out "various manoeuvres" on the seven-bedroom property to transfer it from joint ownership into her name.

The prosecution has asserted a further loan on the house was used to help pay for Hayes' legal fees rather than stated garden improvements.

Hayes said he been advised to spend £200,000 on landscaping as the house was "on a very steep slope" and there were lengthy retaining walls.

They were not long in the house before he was arrested in the UK and charged in the US, leading to what Hayes described as a "phoney war".

He said: "My dominant feeling was this was a misunderstanding to be sorted out and clarified."

By January 2013, he was in the "middle of a breakdown", he said: "I realised the seriousness of the Department of Justice. I was terrified of those guys. I should not have been in retrospect.

"I was getting calls from my US attorney saying 'you are going to get indicted', that being the first step to formal extradition. To say I was concerned would be true."

Mr Parroy asked: "Is it right that you saw paying lawyers in the US and here as extremely important at that time?"

Hayes replied: "It would have been good if they had worked pro bono but that was not an option. I know very few lawyers who would do not expect to be paid."

Describing his mental state as he defended himself on both sides of the Atlantic, he said: "I was literally having a breakdown. I could not drive a car, look after my son, (I was) suicidal.

"It was a very, very difficult time of my life. Sarah had to go back to work. She moved back to her parents.

"Given my mental state in 2013 it's hard to give you answers: one, to remember them clearly and, two taking rational decisions.

"The most important thing about avoiding extradition is being charged. Had I not been charged in this jurisdiction, I would have been extradited, so being charged was my priority."

The hearing was adjourned until Thursday.