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Jury picked in ex-Rabobank traders' U.S. trial over Libor scheme

Former Rabobank employee Anthony Allen exits federal court in Manhattan, New York, October 13, 2015. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly

By Nate Raymond

NEW YORK (Reuters) - An architect, a train operator and an unemployed magazine copy-editor were picked as jurors on Tuesday in the trial of two former Rabobank [RABO.UL] traders from Britain facing U.S. charges that they engaged in a scheme to manipulate Libor interest rates.

The trial of Anthony Allen, 44, and Anthony Conti, 46, in federal court in Manhattan marks the first in a case by the U.S. Justice Department spilling out of a global investigation into whether various banks sought to manipulate Libor.

Both men have pleaded not guilty to charges including conspiracy and wire fraud stemming from their alleged role in helping manipulate U.S. dollar and yen Libor rates to benefit the Dutch lender's trading positions.

A jury of seven men and five women plus four alternates was picked for the trial, which U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff said could last three to four weeks. Opening statements are expected on Wednesday.

Outside the jurors' presence, Rakoff made a series of evidentiary rulings, including prohibiting prosecutors from introducing as evidence Rabobank's $325 million settlement with the Justice Department in 2013 resolving similar allegations.

Rakoff also ruled prosecutors could not elicit testimony from an expert witness that manipulating Libor could impact mortgages and credit card loans, calling it "calculated to invoked sympathy for the government's position."

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 $450 trillion of financial products globally.

U.S. and European authorities have been investigating whether banks fraudulently submitted artificial rate estimates to bolster their profits on trading derivatives linked to Libor.

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

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

Their trial follows an earlier one in London involving alleged yen Libor manipulation that led to the conviction of Tom Hayes, a former UBS AG (UBSG.VX) and Citigroup Inc (C.N) trader who was sentenced in August to 14 years in prison.

Another trial in London began last week for six former brokers accused of manipulating yen Libor rates. They have pleaded not guilty.

The case is U.S. v. Allen, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 14-cr-00272.

(Reporting by Nate Raymond in New York; Editing by Nick Zieminski)