Ex-Deutsche Bank Trader Bittar Pleads Guilty to Rate Rigging
Christian Bittar leaves Westminster Magistrates' Court in London on Jan. 11, 2016. Photographer: Jason Alden/Bloomberg
Christian Bittar, a former star trader for Deutsche Bank AG, pleaded guilty to conspiring to rig the benchmark rate known as Euribor, a key moment in one of the U.K.’s biggest banking scandals.
Bittar pleaded guilty on March 2, but his plea couldn’t be reported until Thursday after a London court lifted restrictions on the matter, the U.K.’s Serious Fraud Office said in a statement. A trial of five other traders in the case is scheduled to begin next month.
The SFO charged Bittar in November 2015 with conspiring to “procure or make submissions” to manipulate the euro interbank offered rate, or Euribor, between 2005 and 2009. The scheme was investigated as part of a wider probe into benchmark rates, the most famous of which was Libor, a counterpart of Euribor.
"While there’s an outstanding trial of the others, and Mr. Bittar is due to be sentenced thereafter, it wouldn’t be right to comment on this at the moment," said David Savell, Bittar’s lawyer at Locke Lord LLP in London.
In addition to the criminal charge, Bittar was issued a penalty notice by the U.K. Financial Conduct Authority in 2014 with a proposed fine of 10 million pounds ($14 million) in relation to the bank’s improper submissions. The FCA also proposed to ban him from the industry. The notice was put on hold due to the SFO’s criminal investigation.
50 Million-Euro Bonus
In 2008, Bittar made 500 million euros ($617 million) for the bank and was due a bonus of more than 50 million euros under his employment contract, according to people with knowledge of the situation. He lost about 40 million euros in bonuses after he was fired in 2011.
Deutsche Bank paid $2.5 billion for failing to prevent attempts to rig benchmark interest rates. The FCA also admonished the lender for potentially hampering the investigation by misleading the regulator.
Officials at Deutsche Bank and the FCA declined to comment.
German prosecutors said last month that they wouldn’t extradite four other Deutsche Bank traders, ruling that the alleged crimes had taken place too long ago to be tried. That whittled the number of traders from Deutsche Bank, Barclays Plc and Societe Generale SA charged with rigging Euribor down to six from an initial 11. A French court last year decided not to extradite the SocGen trader caught up in the case.
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