Tom Hayes says he will now ‘begin the process of rebuilding [his] life’’ after being released from a UK prison © Bloomberg

Tom Hayes, the former UBS and Citigroup trader who was jailed for conspiring to rig the Libor benchmark interest rate, has been released after five-and-a-half years in prison.

Mr Hayes was the first person in the world to be found guilty by a jury over the Libor scandal after a two-month trial in 2015, serving around half of his 11-year sentence.

He was charged by British and US prosecutors who accused him of being a key participant in a global conspiracy to manipulate Libor, which at the time was used to price hundreds of trillions of assets worldwide.

Mr Hayes, who has been diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome, said in a statement on Friday his time in prison had been “traumatic” and that he still believed he would be exonerated for his actions.

He and his lawyers have argued that his punishment was too severe and that he was made a scapegoat for his managers and the banks themselves, who he claims were aware of and supported his actions.

“Today, I begin the process of rebuilding my life,” he said. 

Mr Hayes was a star derivatives trader at UBS in Tokyo from 2006 until 2009 and claimed to have made the bank more than $280m of profits. He was poached by Citigroup with a $4.2m joining bonus, only then to be let go 10 months later as the Libor scandal accelerated. He has said that Deutsche Bank and Bank of America subsequently tried to hire him.

The 41-year-old spent the last 18 months of his prison term in a minimum-security facility on the south coast of the UK. In 2018, he lost his appeal against a confiscation order that forced his wife to sell their seven-bedroom family home and was ordered to pay back £880,000.

The UK Serious Fraud Office closed its probe into rate rigging in 2019 with three guilty verdicts under their belt and a guilty plea from another banker who worked for Barclays. However, eight other people were acquitted in related Libor cases. 

Several of Mr Hayes’ alleged co-conspirators were also acquitted. Others accused of rate-rigging had their sentences overturned by a US appeals court.

French trader Christian Bittar, who used to work for Deutsche Bank, was prosecuted for conspiring to manipulate the Euribor benchmark. He pleaded guilty and was sentenced to five years and four months in July 2018.

Mr Hayes has submitted his case to the Criminal Cases Review Commission, which handles alleged miscarriages of justice. He also still faces a criminal complaint in the US.

As a result of the Libor scandal, 12 banks paid almost $10bn in fines and settlements around the world. The benchmark is scheduled to be phased out by the end of this year.

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