UK's appeal court cuts jail term for Libor trader

Former Barclays trader Jay Merchant arrives for sentencing at Southwark Crown Court in London, Britain July 7, 2016. REUTERS/Neil Hall

LONDON (Reuters) - A former Barclays BARC.L trader had his jail term for conspiring to rig global Libor interest rates cut by one year to five-and-a-half years by the Court of Appeal in London on Wednesday.

Jay Merchant, a former New York-based derivatives trader, was convicted by a jury last year in the third case brought to trial by the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) in an investigation into alleged Libor (London interbank offered rate) manipulation.

Merchant is the second person to have a Libor-related sentence reduced by London's Court of Appeal. Tom Hayes, a former UBS UBSG.S and Citigroup C.N derivatives trader, had his initial 14-year sentence cut to 11 years on appeal in 2015.

Hayes, the first person convicted worldwide by a jury of Libor-rigging offences, launched a last-ditch attempt in January to overturn his conviction by lodging an appeal with the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC), which looks at miscarriages of justice.

Hayes is also challenging a plan by the UK regulator to ban him from working in the UK financial services industry, according to one source familiar with the situation.

Hayes’s challenge was received by London’s Upper Tribunal, which hears appeals on cases brought by the regulator, on Dec. 23, according to official listings.

Hayes’s lawyer did not immediately respond to requests for comment and the FCA declined to comment. But it is standard practice for the FCA to seek to bar individuals from working in financial services after a criminal conviction.

Libor, designed to reflect the cost of bank-to-bank borrowing, is a benchmark for rates on around $450 trillion (361 trillion pound) worth of financial contracts and loans worldwide.

Reporting by Kirstin Ridley; editing by Susan Thomas