Picture: REUTERS
Picture: REUTERS

London — A former Barclays trader accused of rigging a benchmark interest rate downplayed his seniority at the bank, telling a London court that his job was comparable to working at a fast-food restaurant.

Being a vice-president at Barclays is "the equivalent to the guy that serves you in McDonald’s," the trader, Carlo Palombo, said Thursday during his second day of testimony.

Palombo is on trial with former Barclays traders Colin Bermingham and Sisse Bohart, as well as Achim Kraemer from Deutsche Bank. They all deny charges that they fixed the euro interbank offered rate, or Euribor, between 2005 and 2009. Palombo’s one-time boss, Philippe Moryoussef, is also on trial but isn’t attending the proceedings and isn’t represented by a lawyer.

Prosecutor James Waddington took issue with the statement, asking if "that’s a comparison that works".

"Vice-president is not what everyone thinks it is," Palombo replied. "It is junior."

Income inequality

Waddington told the jury that the former trader earned £1m in 2007.

"People do get paid a lot money" in banking, Palombo said. "If you want to have a conversation about income inequality, then let’s have a conversation about it."

The investigation by the UK’s Serious Fraud Office, which is prosecuting the case, was part of a wider probe into benchmark rates, which are tied to trillions of dollars worth of derivatives and loans, the most famous of which was Libor, a counterpart of Euribor.

Palombo denied ever trying to influence Euribor, though he did agree that he made requests for a preferred rate to the cash desk.

"I made the requests for the book and for the team," he said. "I made the requests on the instruction of the team."

Palombo said he was a junior trader on the desk, but because of his trading he "made the book a lot of money".

"It has got nothing to do with this case," he said. "It has got nothing to do with why we are here."