Former Rabobank trader gets US jail
FORMER Australian Rabobank trader Paul Thompson wept as he asked a New York judge for mercy, but his emotional plea failed to save him from jail time in a US prison.
US District Court Judge Jed Rakoff sentenced Thompson to three months’ jail despite Thompson discovering last week he has an 80 per cent chance of prostate cancer.
The Perth 50-year-old is the eighth trader to be sentenced to prison for a global scandal involving the rigging of the LIBOR benchmark interest rate.
“I plead with you your honour for mercy,” Thompson, his face covered in tears as his wife Robyn watched from the public gallery of the Manhattan courtroom, said. Judge Rakoff did show some leniency.
The three months was the smallest term handed out so far by US and British courts to the eight men punished for the scandal, with Thompson’s co-accused hit with between one year and 5.5 year sentences.
Thompson had asked for no jail, community service or home detention to be served in Perth.
The court heard how Thompson, who worked as a derivatives trader in Hong Kong and Singapore for Rabobank, has had his working and family life turned upside down since an investigation into the interest rate rigging began six years ago.
His wife suffered a heart attack last year, his son has a serious medical condition, his mother has battled cancer and his conviction ended his career in the financial industry.
Evidence was tendered of emails sent between the traders that altered, for their own benefit, the LIBOR, the most significant global benchmark for short-term interest rates.
In one message Thompson asks a colleague to submit a “0.44 if you can keep a straight face”.
“My stomach churns and I feel sick every time I read back over those emails,” Thompson told the judge.
Prosecutors argued for a longer sentence, telling the judge a light punishment would not deter other white collar criminals.
Judge Rakoff described Thompson’s actions as a very serious crime, but also took into account his potential cancer, family health issues and the long distance that would separate Thompson while in a US jail from his family in Perth. “I don’t think under all of the circumstances a long period of incarceration is required,” the judge said.
The judge also recommended Thompson serve his sentence in a Los Angeles prison that has a medical facility.
He also allowed Thompson to delay the start of his sentence. Thompson will be allowed to fly back to Australia, spend Christmas with his family before returning to the US to begin his sentence on February 6 next year.