UPDATE 1-UK court forces Barclays to reveal staff on Libor list
LONDON, Jan 24 (Reuters) - A British judge forced Barclays to identify top executives alongside traders linked to a probe into rate fixing, naming ex CEOs Bob Diamond and John Varley and current Finance Director Chris Lucas on Thursday despite requests for anonymity.
The names were unveiled in a preliminary hearing for a case brought against Barclays by a residential care home operator which alleges it was mis-sold interest rate hedging products, which were based on Libor rates.
Barclays was the first bank to be punished over the Libor scandal, in which global lenders colluded to manipulate benchmark interest rates. It agreed to a fine of $453 million from U.S. and UK authorities and its then chief executive Bob Diamond left the bank following the controversy.
In the first British claim for damages, Guardian Care Homes is suing Barclays for 37 million pounds. It is seen as a test case for interest rate swaps misselling, and is also set to shine a light on people involved in the bank's manipulation of Libor and how the rate setting process was conducted.
Britain's High Court denied requests by 104 former and current Barclays staff for anonymity. The list of names includes 24 individuals who have been named in regulatory documents referring to Barclays' attempted Libor rigging. That sub list was not immediately available.
The remaining people are employees whose email accounts were disclosed to the regulatory authorities, but it is not suggested in the regulatory findings that they were implicated in the fixing scandal.
Those named include Rich Ricci, head of Barclays' investment bank.
"There is a legitimate public interest in the true picture in relation to the manipulation of Libor by banks generally, not just Barclays, being brought fully to light," the judge said in his ruling.
"In my judgment, fair and accurate media reporting of all aspects of Libor manipulation, including the involvement of employees and ex-employees of Barclays and their identity, is an important aspect of the public obtaining that true picture."
Others named on Thursday include Ryan Reich, a 30-year-old former Barclays swaps trader based in New York who was fired in 2010.
U.S. prosecutors are investigating Reich's activities while at Barclays between August 2006 and March 2010, according to several people familiar with the situation.
Ritankar "Ronti" Pal, who oversaw desk trading since 2006, was also on the list. He recently left Barclays.
Other names included Eric Bommensath, a French bond trader who became global head of fixed income and a member of the bank's executive committee, and Harry Harrison, a British banker in charge of dollar-denominated fixed-income trading in New York.
Libor is used as a benchmark for pricing trillions of dollars of loans and other financial contracts and banks implicated face a rising tide of civil lawsuits from customers who argue the rate-rigging pushed up the cost of their loans.
Switzerland's UBS agreed in December to pay fines of $1.5 billion and a slew of other banks, including Royal Bank of Scotland are also expected to reach settlements.
Barclays has said it has fired five employees following an internal investigation into how its Libor rates were submitted and disciplined another eight people. Many people identified in that investigation have also left the bank, it told lawmakers in November.
"This started as an alleged misselling case which the bank considers has no merit," Barclays said in a brief statement on Thursday. "The addition of a claim based on what happened with Libor does not change the bank's view.
"The fact that someone's documents were reviewed by the bank during its review of millions of documents does not mean that such person was involved in any wrongdoing."