No One at Barclays Knew How to Set Euribor, Trader’s Lawyer Says

(Bloomberg) -- A lawyer for one of three former Barclays Plc employees accused of rigging a key benchmark told a London court that his client couldn’t be blamed for taking trading positions into account when setting the rate because no one knew it was against the rules.

“Barclays for sure didn’t have any methodology of this kind, setting out step-by-step, what the submitters should take into account and how they should arrive at their decision,” Andrew Thomas, a lawyer for Colin Bermingham, said Friday. “There was no relevant guidance until some time around the end of 2008, beginning of 2009.”

Lawyers for Bermingham and two other defendants, Carlo Palombo and Sisse Bohart, are making closing arguments in the case. They face charges that they helped to manipulate the Euro interbank offered rate between January 2005 and December 2009. All three deny the charges.

No One at Barclays Knew How to Set Euribor, Trader’s Lawyer Says

Euribor is tied to trillions of dollars worth of loans and derivatives. The rate is calculated with submissions from 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.

Bermingham worked on the cash desk at Barclays and oversaw the daily submission of Euribor rates. The bank’s policy that prohibited submitters from speaking to other departments was only enacted after concerns arose about setting a similar benchmark, Thomas said.

“It’s been interpreted and it’s been explained,” Thomas said. “Now we know what it is. But that guidance wasn’t there at the time.”

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