Ex-Barclays Banker Didn't Ask Why Euribor Trader Sought Help

(Bloomberg) -- A former Barclays Plc banker on trial for rigging a key interest rate benchmark said she never considered why traders asked for rate submissions or discussed it with her manager.

Sisse Bohart, 41, who worked as a junior trader on the money desk, said she would always try to accommodate Philippe Moryoussef when he requested higher or lower fixings for the euro interbank offered rate. Moryoussef, who worked at Barclays, and Christian Bittar, a trader at Deutsche Bank AG, had amassed huge trading positions that would be affected by the rates.

Bohart, her manager Colin Bermingham and another trader Carlo Palombo are on trial for allegations they rigged Euribor, a benchmark linked to trillions of dollars worth of loans and derivatives. All three deny the charges.

"You can’t remember a conversation with Mr. Bermingham about the impact, why the traders made the request?" James Waddington, a lawyer for the Serious Fraud Office, asked Bohart. "No," she replied.

Bohart, who made the Euribor submissions alongside Bermingham, said she constantly took requests from traders but now believed she was being "used" by colleagues who were profiting from the contributions. Moryoussef and Bittar were convicted last year for rigging the benchmark.

Best Estimates

Bohart said she took very little time to calculate her submission. "It’s just a question of choosing a rate," she said. If there were two best estimates that were equally good, "it doesn’t matter which one I put in.”

Euribor is made up by submissions from dozens of lenders, who measure the cost of borrowing between each other. The published value is the average of the submissions after the top and bottom 15 percent have been eliminated.

The court was also shown messages where Palombo asked Bohart for different fixings. At one point, she said to him: "If you needed it low, you just need to say."

"It does look like you accommodated these swaps traders," Waddington said. "If I could I would have," Bohart said. "Yes, I did factor in what he wanted if I could, but I always applied the proper way of submitting my Euribor" figures.

In a conversation that included both Bohart and Bermingham in March 2008 as the financial crisis was underway, Bermingham referred to the Euribor rate, saying "unfortunately I don’t think we can really impact on it."

Bohart said she wasn’t dishonest.

"If it’s an attempt to push anything, then I agree that it’s incorrect," she said. "Quite frankly I don’t really care what the market is in, it’s wrong."

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