A jury in New York City yesterday found two former London traders guilty in the first convictions in the U.S. stemming from the global investigation into the rigging of an interest rate benchmark known as Libor, reports the New York Times. The verdict against Anthony Allen and Anthony Conti after less than a day and a half of deliberation was a surprisingly quick victory for the Justice Department as it makes a renewed effort to prosecute individuals for financial crimes. The conviction of the two British citizens was the product of a long-running push by regulators and law enforcement in several countries to investigate the manipulation of Libor, the London interbank offered rate. Libor is a benchmark used by banks to set interest rates on mortgages, credit cards and other kinds of loans.
Leslie Caldwell, the assistant attorney general of DOJ’s criminal division of the Justice Department, said, “Today's verdicts illustrate the department's successful efforts to hold accountable bank executives responsible for this global fraud scheme.” DOJ has sought to counter the sharp criticism from many quarters that it has been reluctant to bring cases against Wall Street executives, even for the abuses that led to the financial crisis of 2008. The new convictions may embolden prosecutors as they weigh whether to bring cases against individuals in the currency manipulation scandal. “The Libor cases have been a symbol of the department's commitment to taking on the major banks,” said University of Virginia law Prof. Brandon Garrett. “I think it was very important for the government to show that both individuals and the corporations will be held criminally accountable.”