Libor trader faces setback in conviction appeal, may fight on

LONDON (Reuters) - A former junior Barclays BARC.L trader who was jailed in Britain for conspiring to rig Libor interest rates has suffered a setback in his attempt to quash his conviction.

FILE PHOTO: Former Barclays employee Jonathan Mathew arrives at Southwark Crown Court in London March 3, 2014. REUTERS/Toby Melville/File Photo

The Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC), a public body that investigates potential miscarriages of justice, said on Tuesday it had closed Jonathan Mathew’s case in June without sending it back to the appeal court, though it added he was entitled to make a fresh application.

The CCRC can investigate convictions or jail sentences and send them back to appeal courts if it is presented with new evidence or legal arguments not identified at the time of the trial.

Matthew Frankland, a lawyer at Byrne and Partners who represents Mathew, said the CCRC decision had been made before “further material” had been received.

“We’ve told the CCRC that we definitely reserve the right to come back to it,” he said, adding Mathew, who was released from jail earlier this year, maintains his innocence.

Mathew was the second former banker to refer his Libor-related conviction to the CCRC after Tom Hayes, a former star UBS UBSG.S and Citigroup C.N trader, lodged his CCRC bid in 2017 to overturn his conviction and 11-year sentence.

The men are among seven convicted in Britain to date in a seven-year investigation by the country’s Serious Fraud Office (SFO) into how bankers set global rates such as Libor (London interbank offered rate), a benchmark for interest rates on around $450 trillion (342.24 trillion pounds) of financial contracts and consumer loans.

Mathew was sentenced to four years in prison in 2016 and was jailed alongside three former Barclays bankers. The jury was unable to reach a verdict on two others, who were later unanimously acquitted after a retrial raised questions about the credibility of the SFO’s key banking witness.

Hayes, a gifted mathematician with Asperger’s syndrome, became the first person jailed worldwide over Libor rigging in 2015. His family and supporters have raised more than 90,000 pounds through crowdfunding to help fight his case.

A CCRC spokesman said Hayes’s case was complex and it was impossible to predict how long that review would take or what the likely outcome would be.

The CCRC, which only refers cases back to the appeal courts if it sees a “real possibility” that a conviction will be quashed or a sentence changed, said it had not received any applications for a review from other convicted Libor traders.

Of around 24,000 applications it has received since April 1997, the CCRC has referred only 652 back to the appeal courts, according to its website.

Reporting by Kirstin Ridley; Editing by Mark Potter