Former ICAP trio plead not guilty to Libor fraud charges

LONDON (Reuters) - Three former ICAP brokers pleaded not guilty in London on Friday to criminal charges that they had sought to manipulate benchmark interest rates, setting the scene for a high profile trial next year.

Colin Goodman, Darrell Read and Danny Wilkinson entered their pleas at London's Southwark Crown Court. They are expected to stand trial alongside former RPMartin brokers Terry Farr and James Gilmour, who pleaded not guilty last December.

The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) has charged 13 men in connection with a high profile investigation into the alleged rigging of rates such as Libor (London interbank offered rate), against which around $450 trillion of financial contracts from mortgages to student loans are pegged worldwide. The British agency alleges that Goodman, Read and Wilkinson conspired to defraud between Aug. 2006 and Sept. 2010. Read appeared by video link from his native New Zealand to enter his plea.

Worldwide, 18 men have been charged with benchmark rate rigging to date and three have pleaded guilty -- two in the United States and one in Britain.

Those pleading not guilty in Britain will face trial by jury. The first trial is likely to be that of Tom Hayes, a former Citigroup and UBS yen derivatives trader. Hayes faces eight counts of conspiracy to defraud, an offence that carries a maximum 10-year sentence.

(Reporting by Clare Hutchison; writing by Kirstin Ridley and Freya Berry; editing by Keith Weir)