Hostile Work Environments Are Best For Rate-Rigging

UBS sure has a knack for nicknames.
Getty Images

Getty Images

Ever wonder how a mildly autistic English guy was made to suffer for the sins of all interest-rate manipulators? The Wall Street Journal’s David Enrich did, and now he’s written a book about it. A large part of the answer seems to be: Because the authorities decided to pin it all on a mildly autistic guy since he maybe wouldn’t pick up on the social cues that he was being set up.

The authorities were hunting for bankers to hold accountable for the industry’s many sins, and Mr. Hayes was blundering into an elaborate trap, cementing his status as their top target….

Mr. Alykulov was granted a nonprosecution agreement that stated that Justice wouldn’t go after him as long as he cooperated fully. All he had to do was help to get the investigators closer to Mr. Hayes.

That’s Mirhat Alykulov, Hayes’ desk-mate at UBS’ Tokyo office during his high-flying Libor-rigging days, and eventually (and allegedly) his close collaborator thereon. Or, as the Kazakh trader was known to colleagues long before trying to get Hayes to incriminate himself while his unborn child was being tested for Down Syndrome, “Derka Derka.”

It derived from a refrain in the deliberately offensive 2004 movie “Team America: World Police.” The “Team America” puppets depicting Middle Eastern terrorists used the phrase “Derka derka Muhammad jihad” instead of speaking actual Arabic. “Ha ha, that’s great,” his boss said when he learned of the nickname.

Hilarious, right? I mean, just imagine what those wits can do with an autistic guy who favored lucky bumblebee socks and only entered the building through his favorite, lucky turnstile.

Mr. Alykulov did his best to overlook Mr. Hayes’s social awkwardness, which garnered him the nicknames “Rain Man” and “Kid Asperger.”

They may not have been guilty of Libor manipulation, but these people are certainly guilty of boringly mundane senses of humor.

A Trap for a Trader [WSJ]