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Former UK trader Hayes pleads not guilty to Libor fraud charges

Former trader Tom Hayes leaves Southwark Crown Court in London October 21, 2013. REUTERS/Toby Melville

By Kirstin Ridley

LONDON (Reuters) - Tom Hayes, a former UBS and Citigroup trader, on Tuesday pleaded not guilty in a London court to charges that he had sought to manipulate Libor benchmark interest rates with employees from around 10 leading banks and brokerages.

The 34-year-old, who appeared alongside former RP Martin brokers Terry Farr and James Gilmour, has been charged with eight counts of conspiracy to defraud between 2006 and 2010 as part of a global inquiry stretching from the U.S. to Asia.

Hayes, who last December was also charged with fraud-related offences by U.S. prosecutors, made his plea after an 11th-hour change of legal team.

Farr and Gilmour, who were arrested alongside Hayes in Britain last December and later also charged with conspiracy to defraud, also pleaded not guilty.

UBS, which was fined $1.5 billion by regulators last December in connection with the Libor investigations, and Citi both declined to comment when contacted by Reuters.

The three Britons are the first suspects to face trial in the Libor inquiry into whether traders manipulated rates such as Libor, against which around $400 trillion worth of products, from derivatives to mortgages, are priced worldwide.

U.S. and European authorities have fined 10 banks and brokerages $6 billion to date and charged seven men with criminal offences in connection with the rate-rigging scam. In an effort to restore faith in the financial services industry, regulators are also now investigating how other benchmarks are set such as in foreign exchange and swaps markets.

(Reporting by Kirstin Ridley; editing by Simon Jessop and Jane Merriman)