Christian Bittar, one ofDeutsche 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 behind bars.
Bittar was released 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 depicted by U.K. prosecutors as the mastermind in manipulating Euribor rates alongside Philippe Moryoussef, who worked atBarclays 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 may have gone unnoticed even by people who’ve known him well.
“I’m not a very public person but if there’s a short article saying I’m out of jail, at least that way my friends will know,” he said. “That’s neat.”
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. U.K. regulators separatelybanned 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 home country, where they are not subject to further imprisonment, and they cannot legally return to the U.K. while the deportation order is in place.
Ex-Barclays Trader Regrets Fleeing Too Late in Euribor Case
Moryoussef, who is also French, 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 nowfighting 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.
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