A former star Deutsche Bank trader has pleaded guilty to rate-rigging in a London court, and now sits in custody to await sentencing later this year.
It marks a dramatic fall from grace for Christian Bittar, the 46 year-old with a background in advanced maths who was Deutsche Bank’s most profitable trader from 2003 to 2010.
Bloomberg reports that in 2008 alone, Bittar earned a bonus of more than $US120 million after making profitable bets amid the market turmoil brought on by the global financial crisis (GFC).
He was known among colleagues as Mr Basis Point, due to his preference for making trades on tiny changes in short-term interest rates.
But in the wake of the market meltdown, regulatory authorities in the US and UK commenced a crackdown on unscrupulous trading activity.
Bittar was fired in December 2011, as Deutsche Bank tried to distance itself from rate-rigging allegations. Upon his termination, Bittar lost around $US40 million worth of unvested Deutsche Bank stock options.
Deutsche Bank was subsequently fined $US2.5 billion by global regulators in 2015 for failing to prevent attempts by traders to rig benchmark rates.
The investigation then moved from banks to individual traders. Bittar received a civil penalty in 2014, including a ban from the industry and a proposed $US10 million fine, which was put on hold pending the outcome of criminal proceedings.
The investigation culminated in Bittar’s guilty plea on March 2 for conspiring to rig the inter-bank lending rate known as the Euribor. The Euribor is the benchmark rate at which Eurozone banks lend to one another.
Reporting restrictions on his guilty plea were lifted by the court last Thursday. Bittar currently sits in jail, and will be sentenced after a related trial ends in the northern summer.
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