LONDON, July 4 (UPI) -- Three ex-traders were convicted of rigging the Libor rate, a key banking interest rate, between 2005 and 2007.
Two British bankers, Jay Merchant, 45, and Jonathan Mathew, 35, as well as one American, Alex Pabon, 38, were found guilty by a jury at the Southwark Crown Court. They will be sentenced on Thursday.
The ex-Barclays traders manipulated the Libor rate so to benefit financially.
Large banks have paid dozens of fines for their role in manipulating the Libor rate, but the three former traders are part of the first group of bank employees to be criminally prosecuted.
The Libor rate is the average of the interest rates banks report for loans from other banks. The rate is used as a barometer of financial heatlh and as a standard for a variety of derivative markets in Europe, the United States and abroad.
A number of banks have been accused of colluding to manipulate the Libor rate by inflating or deflating their reported interest rates in order to profit on large trades.
Because financial instruments in the United States use the Libor as a benchmark, manipulation of the rate is a violation of American law.
"The trial in this country of American nationals also demonstrates the extent to which the response to Libor manipulation has been international and the subject of extensive co-operation between U.S. and U.K. authorities," David Green, head the British government's Serious Fraud Office, said in a statement.
Tom Hayes, a former trader for UBS and Citigroup, became the first banker convicted as part of the Libor scandal. He was sentenced last year to 11 years in prison.
This week's convictions mark the fourth time a jury has rejected the argument of defense attorneys that their clients were "just doing their job" -- that they were naive to the deceitful nature of their actions.
"The defendants in this case are all very successful, intelligent, well-educated and experienced professionals," argued James Hines, a prosecutor with the Serious Fraud Office -- according to the Guardian. "These men were trusted by Barclays bank to trade in deals worth billions of dollars."