Two former traders, who worked for Barclays, have been acquitted of conspiring to rig Libor rates, the benchmark used to set interbank lending rates.

Ryan Reich, a 35-year-old US national and Greek national Stylianos Contogoulas, 45, were both freed in unanimous verdicts by the jury. The acquittal came after the jury, in a July 2016 trial was unable to reach a verdict on both men on a charge of conspiracy to defraud brought by the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) – of plotting to rig Libor between June 2005 and September 2007.

In 2016, their former Barlcays colleague Jay Merchant was sentenced to six-and-a-half years, along with Peter Johnson and Jonathan Mathew who were each jailed for four years, while Alex Pabon received two years and nine months.

At least $400trn (£320trn) in derivatives and other financial products are tied to the Libor, which also serves as a benchmark for loans and financial contracts for households and companies worldwide.

In a statement issued by his lawyer, Contogoulas thanked the jury after a "trying ordeal for the past seven years".

"He has consistently maintained his innocence of any crime and is gratified that Thursday's verdict has vindicated him," Contogoulas' lawyer added.

Reich said he was "relieved and delighted" to have been acquitted. "This trial was the first time that any jury has actually been asked to consider whether as a matter of fact any trader deliberately broke the rules or caused false Libors to be submitted. They rapidly rejected the SFO's case. There can be little doubt that, had the juries been properly directed in earlier trials, acquittals would similarly have resulted."

The Libor scandal came to the surface in 2012, and led to the resignation of then chief executive Bob Diamond. Barclays was subsequently slapped with a £290m fine. Heavy fines also followed for Royal Bank of Scotland, UBS, Deutsche Bank and broker Icap.