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Ex-Rabobank traders to testify in own defence in Libor trial

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Two former Rabobank traders from Britain facing US charges that they engaged in a scheme to manipulate Libor interest rates plan to testify in their own defense, their lawyers said on Friday.

[NEW YORK] Two former Rabobank traders from Britain facing US charges that they engaged in a scheme to manipulate Libor interest rates plan to testify in their own defense, their lawyers said on Friday.

Their disclosure came as prosecutors said they were prepared to rest by Monday in presenting their case in Manhattan federal court against the two traders on trial, Anthony Allen and Anthony Conti.

The traders are the first to face trial in the United States following a global investigation into whether various banks submitted artificial rate estimates to bolster profits on trading derivatives tied to Libor.

Allen, Rabobank's former global head of liquidity and finance, and Conti, a senior trader, were indicted in October 2014, a year after the Netherlands-based bank reached a US$1 billion deal resolving related US and European probes.

Both have pleaded not guilty to charges including conspiracy and wire fraud over alleged roles to help manipulate US dollar and yen Libor rates to benefit the Netherlands-based bank's trading positions.

Michael Schachter, Allen's lawyer, told US District Judge Jed Rakoff that after prosecutors rest, the defence would call expert witnesses and that they intended to call Allen.

Aaron Williamson, Conti's lawyer, confirmed in a brief interview that his client also planned to testify.

Mr Schachter said Allen, a British citizen, would testify to how he voluntarily waived extradition in March to fight the charges. "We believe that shows consciousness of innocence," Mr Schachter said.

He contrasted his client's decision with two other overseas ex-Rabobank traders who, like Allen and Conti, were charged by the US Justice Department but have not appeared in US court.

Judge Rakoff responded that one of them, Paul Thompson, had been arrested. Australia's Attorney-General's Department confirmed Thompson had been arrested in Perth, Western Australia, following a request from the United States for his extradition.

"Mr Thompson is wanted to face prosecution in the United States for wire and bank fraud offences," a spokeswoman said, declining to comment further.

Thompson had worked in London, Tokyo, Hong Kong, and Singapore, where he was implicated in the Libor scandal while working for Rabobank. Thompson returned to Perth in 2012 and had been working as a residential real estate agent in an upmarket riverside suburb.

Libor, or the London interbank offered rate, is a short-term rate banks charge each other for loans that is calculated based on submissions by a panel of banks. It underpins hundreds of trillions of dollars in financial products globally.

The case is the first by the Justice Department to go to trial following investigations by US and European authorities.

Those investigations resulted in charges against 22 people in the United States and United Kingdom and around US$9 billion in regulatory settlements with financial institutions.

REUTERS