EX-Deutsche Bank Star Trader (Christian Bittar)
Updated: Oct 21, 2020
EX-Deutsche Bank Star Trader (Christian Bittar) Released from UK prison after serving 23 month sentence for Euribor interest rate rigging conviction
Bittar spent 23 months in jail after Euribor guilty plea
Ex-trader was sent to France weeks before Covid-19 lockdown
Christian Bittar, one of Deutsche Bank AG’s highest-paid traders before he pleaded guilty to rate-rigging, was freed from a British prison earlier this year after 23 months.
Bittar was reeased in February and sent to France under what’s known as an “early removal scheme.”
The 48-year-old was sentenced to five years and four months in 2018 after being convicted of helping to mastermind the manipulation of Euribor rates alongside Philippe Moryoussef, who worked at Barclays Plc. The London judge who sentenced him said he was “perhaps the best” derivatives trader in the world.
“I’m glad this is all finally behind me because it’s been going on for a long time, too long,” the French citizen said in a phone interview. “These last eight months I’ve been very happy to be outside. I spent a lot of time with my family.”
The former star trader’s February release hasn’t been previously reported and he suggested it may have gone unnoticed even by some of his friends.
Bittar said he didn’t serve the full term because he met certain criteria, including good behavior.
“I didn’t create any ruckus over there,” he said.
Still, the former Deutsche Bank trader considers himself “lucky” there wasn’t any administrative delay in processing his release, which could have been upset by the nationwide U.K. lockdown begun March 23 to stem the spread of Covid-19.
In France, lockdown measures were put in place a week earlier, soon after Bittar arrived in the country.
“I didn’t mind, I’d had some training,” Bittar said.
Bittar says he came out of jail in “good physical and mental shape” and is “very positive about the future” but added that the pandemic has put any professional plans on hold for now.
In addition to the plea, Bittar, who earned a near 90 million-pound ($116 million) bonus in 2008, agreed to pay 3.3 million pounds in costs and penalties.
The London judge considered giving him 9 years in prison, but reduced it because of his guilty plea and the toll the probe had already taken on his life. British regulators separately banned Bittar from the finance industry.
The U.K.’s early removal scheme allows citizens of other countries to be let out of prison as much as nine months before their normal release date. It requires them to be deported to their homeland, where they are not subject to further imprisonment, and they cannot legally return to the U.K. while the deportation order is in place.
Carlo Palombo and Colin Bermingham, who worked at Barclays, were convicted last year in the Serious Fraud Office’s Euribor probe and sentenced to four and five years respectively. The rest of the prosecutor’s investigation was closed in June after it withdrew arrest warrants for four other traders it had sought to prosecute.
Ex-Barclays Trader Regrets Fleeing Too Late in Euribor Case
Moryoussef, who is also French and was a close friend of Bittar, took a different path. While he appeared to hear the initial charges against him, he decided to skip the London trial and flee to France. He was sentenced in absentia to eight years in prison and is now fighting extradition.
Moryoussef says Bittar’s decision to plead guilty weeks before the London trial was set to begin in 2018 and the refusal of the court to take into account evidence he considered key led him to flee to France.
“It made me understand that this trial couldn’t be equitable and that I would be convicted at any cost,” Moryoussef told judges at his extradition trial last week. The Paris court of appeals will rule on Nov. 4 on the U.K.’s request.