Ex-UBS trader who had worked in Singapore seeks dismissal of Libor case

A logo of the Swiss banking giant UBS seen above its headquarters in downtown Zurich on Oct 15, 2011. -- PHOTO: AFP
A logo of the Swiss banking giant UBS seen above its headquarters in downtown Zurich on Oct 15, 2011. -- PHOTO: AFP

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A former UBS AG trader, who had worked in Singapore, has sought to dismiss charges in a Libor rate manipulation case, setting up the first public showdown over the US government's sprawling probe.

Roger Darin, a Swiss citizen, argued in a motion filed in New York federal court on Thursday that a case the U.S. Justice Department filed against him in 2012 marked an "unprecedented attempt to expand the extraterritorial reach of the United States criminal law."

Darin's lawyers said the only connection between his alleged conduct and the US was the fact that the financial benchmark was published by third-parties in America, "along with virtually every other country in the world."

"If the U.S. government can charge Roger Darin in this case, it can sweep up foreign nationals anywhere in the world based on nothing more than a claim that the U.S. is among the nations affected," Darin's lawyers wrote.

Libor, which is calculated based on submissions for a panel of banks, underpins hundreds of trillions of dollars of transactions, and is used to set interest rates on credit cards, student loans and mortgages.

U.S. and European regulators have been probing whether banks attempted to manipulate the rate to benefit their own trading positions. Nine people, including Darin, have been charged by the Justice Department.

Darin's motion marked the first activity in his case since the Justice Department filed a complaint in December 2012 against him and Tom Hayes, a British citizen who worked as a senior yen swaps trader for UBS in Tokyo.

The case was filed as a Japanese subsidiary of UBS pleaded guilty to a wire fraud charge as part of a US$1.5 billion accord resolving Libor probes by regulators in the US, United Kingdom and Switzerland.

Prosecutors said Darin, who while at UBS also worked in Tokyo and Zurich, was primarily focused on trading yen-dominated short-term interest rate derivative products.

The complaint said Darin conspired with Hayes to commit wire fraud by agreeing to submit yen Libor opinions to benefit Hayes'positions.