Two former Rabobank traders received minimal and no prison time earlier this month for their participation in a conspiracy to fix Libor, or the London interbank offered rate, to benefit traders’ positions at Rabobank.
On November 9, 2016, the former head of money market and derivatives trading for Rabobank in Northeast Asia, Paul Thompson, was sentenced to three months by U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff, after pleading guilty to conspiring to commit wire fraud and bank fraud. Prosecutors said Thompson participated in a scheme with others to rig the U.S. dollar and yen Libor rates to benefit Rabobank’s trading positions. Thompson, a trader based in Hong Kong and Singapore, waived extradition and pled guilty in July after his arrest in Australia. While Judge Rakoff believed that prison time was warranted, he noted numerous mitigating factors entitling Thompson to a shorter term, including health issues suffered by Thompson himself and some of his family members. Judge Rakoff granted further leniency by allowing Thompson to return to Perth, Australia to spend Christmas with his family before beginning his sentence in February 2017. Thompson had sought community service or home detention in Australia.
On November 14, 2016, Judge Rakoff sentenced British trader Paul Robson to time served and two years of supervised release after Robson pled guilty in August 2013 to conspiring to rig Libor. In October 2015, Robson testified against co-conspirators Anthony Allen and Anthony Conti, stating that the two men were active participants in the scheme to tailor the global interest rate to benefits traders’ positions at Rabobank. Robson’s sentence represents a departure from the sentencing guidelines of 45 to 51 months. In handing down the sentence, Judge Rakoff emphasized the remorse and extensive cooperation from Robson, including his testimony against his former boss and other traders and his agreement to waive his extradition rights.
Libor supports the basis of many financial products around the world, including mortgage and credit card rates. U.S. and European authorities have spent years investigating whether banks tried to manipulate the Libor rate to benefit their own trading positions. The investigations have led to around $9 billion in regulatory settlements with financial institutions and charges against several individuals. A total of seven former Rabobank traders were charged by the United States Department of Justice after the bank reached a $1 billion deal in 2013 to resolve United States and European investigations. In March, co-conspirators Anthony Allen and Anthony Conti were sentenced by the United States District Court to two years and one year and one day in prison, respectively. Both individuals have appealed. Two other former Rabobank traders – Takayuki Yagamia and Lee Stewart – have pled guilty and await sentencing. Former senior trader at Rabobank’s Tokyo desk, Tetsuya Motomura, remains a fugitive from the United States Government. The case is U.S. v. Robson et al., United States District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 1:14-cr-00272.