WASHINGTON — A federal appeals court reversed the convictions of two former Deutsche Bank AG  DB, +1.85% DBK, +4.38% traders found guilty of rigging a global lending benchmark, overturning one of the U.S. government’s highest-profile court victories linked to the 2008 financial crisis. 

The decision Thursday dealt a blow to the legacy of an investigation that Washington poured resources into after the financial crisis, when prosecutors were criticized for not pursuing enough cases against individual traders and executives. The cases focused on how traders and brokers worldwide influenced the daily London interbank offered rate, known as Libor, which helped set the value of lucrative derivatives they traded and made banks appear healthier.

A panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit found evidence used to convict Matthew Connolly and Gavin Black wasn’t enough to stand up fraud and conspiracy charges. A jury in New York had convicted the two men in 2018.

From the archives (January 2013): Deutsche Bank made huge profit on Libor bet

From the archives (April 2015): Deutsche Bank settles Libor probe with $2.5B fine

The Manhattan-based appeals court in 2017 also tossed Libor-related verdicts against two traders who had worked at Rabobank Group.

An expanded version of this report appears at WSJ.com.

Read on (June 2015): Deutsche Bank exec dismissed talk of Libor fixing

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