Ex-Barclays Trader Says He Felt `Used' by Swaps Colleagues
(Bloomberg) -- A former Barclays Plc trader on trial for rigging a key interest rate said he felt used by colleagues on the swaps desk who messaged with rivals at other banks to discuss their trading positions.
Colin Bermingham, who is testifying for the first time at the London trial, said he never knew senior trader Philippe Moryoussef was talking to competitors including Christian Bittar at Deutsche Bank AG about their preferred position on Euribor, an overnight rate set by banks linked to trillions of dollars of loans and derivatives.
“It seems to beggar belief that us and Deutsche Bank would discuss and get together and put on trades together,” said Bermingham, who would help submit Barclays’ interest rate on the cash desk. “It almost makes you feel a little bit used.”
Bermingham, who retired from Barclays in 2012, is on trial with former co-workers Carlo Palombo and Sisse Bohart as well as Achim Kraemer from Deutsche Bank. They all deny charges that they fixed the euro interbank offered rate between 2005 and 2009. Moryoussef, who is charged in the rate-fixing case, is in France and doesn’t have a lawyer representing him. Bittar pleaded guilty to rate fixing before the trial began.
The U.K. Serious Fraud Office investigation was part of a wider probe into benchmark rates, the most famous of which was Libor, a counterpart of Euribor.
Bermingham never went to university and joined Barclays in 1974 in an entry level paper-work position known as a rough. He said he had no recollection of ever getting any requests from traders on their preferred position and he didn’t remember replying to various messages.
“I think it was a case of if we could help in their requests, we would have done,” he said. “I have never considered” whether the requests were moral. “It felt normal.”
Bermingham explained that his job as a rough was to keep track on paper of at least 20 different traders’ positions on the foreign currency dealing floor. The atmosphere on the trading floor when he started was akin to a soccer match because of the high noise levels, he said.
Bermingham said the allegations of rate fixing made him "angry."
"I had integrity in the job I was doing, I did it for a very long time," he said. "I was proud of what I did at Barclays."
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