Ex-Barclays Trader `Destroyed' Co-Worker for Not Changing Rates

(Bloomberg) -- A Barclays Plc trader referred to a female colleague with a derogatory term after she refused to help him in an interest-rate rigging scheme that prosecutors say involved both of them.

Philippe Moryoussef complained that Sisse Bohart wasn’t doing enough to help him influence interest rates in a way that would benefit his trading position. A lawyer for Bohart read out the messages from Moryoussef in a London court on Thursday as she tried to distance herself from some of the other traders accused of fixing the Euribor rates.

Bohart, Moryoussef and three other bankers are on trial for allegedly taking part in a conspiracy to defraud. The U.K. Serious Fraud Office accuses them of trying to rig Euribor, the euro interbank offered rate, an interest rate benchmark linked to trillions of dollars worth of loans and derivatives. Moryoussef, who is in France and not participating in the trial, denies the charges, as do the other four.

“What a b---, I destroyed her," Moryoussef said in a message to Christian Bittar, a trader at Deutsche Bank AG, who has pleaded guilty to the same charge.

“Tell her you’ll forgive her” in exchange for oral sex, Bittar responded.

Speaking in court, Bohart said she wasn’t aware of the comments until reading the court files, and said she found out that it wasn’t unusual for male colleagues to speak about her in that way.

“I have discovered that there are more conversations of that sort of standard," Bohart said. Moryoussef, who has chosen not to be represented in court, also frequently lied to her, and about her, she said.

Euribor is determined by using contributions from a group of banks. The rate is calculated by removing the highest and lowest 15 percent of submissions, then averaging the remaining figures to reach the final rates each day. Prosecutors say traders would pressure submitters to tweak the numbers to help bolster market positions between 2005 and 2009.

Bohart said in court that she had disliked Moryoussef from the beginning.

“We very early on had a dispute where he didn’t take ownership of a trade” even when she found out that it was his, she said. “He did a wrong against me and I didn’t like that and I didn’t like his attitude.”

Bohart and her former boss, Colin Bermingham, were responsible for making Barclays’s submissions for the Euribor rate. Bittar, Moryoussef, and his junior trader, Carlo Palombo, made money from bets that depended on the setting of the rate each day. The fifth, Achim Kraemer, still is a cash trader for Deutsche Bank in Frankfurt.

On Thursday, Bohart told the jury that she only offered to accommodate Moryoussef and Palombo’s requests for higher or lower submissions within a range that was legitimate. On one occasion, she appeared particularly accommodating to Palombo, telling him "Your wish is my command" when he asked for a higher entry, according to a voice recording of a call between them. In the end, her submission was lower than she’d promised and was the same as those from 15 other banks, she said.

Bohart admitted to one misstep uncovered in the trial, saying she shouldn’t have suggested cash brokers try to push up rates on a particular day.

"I think it’s wrong," Bohart said. "I shouldn’t have done that."

Still, she said she didn’t remember the incident and it was a one-time situation.

During cross-examination Prosecutor James Waddington asked Bohart several times if she had ever considered why she should take the traders’ preferences into account in her submissions. She said that she didn’t remember having a conversation where it was explained to her and that she “didn’t put much thought into it at the time.”

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.

Bloomberg
Stay Updated With OnWeb News On BloombergQuint