The Treasury Select Committee at Westminster interviewed Barclays CEO on the 4th July 2012.
They were concerned over press reporting of a "scandal" on interest rate fixing
Bob Diamond CEO of Barclays Banking Group was questioned by this committee which is, we were reassured by SKY TV newscasters, "Independent of Government". The select commitee comprises elected party politicians selected entirely by political party whipswhipping up a divisive storm and has the right of veto over the Independent Office for Budgetary Responsibility over another "independent body" created by the current UK chancellor (George Osborne) to manipulate economic forecasting/reporting within weeks of taking office reliable forecasts?.
Barclays own response has been rapid but confused: first Marcus Agius resigned Headless Chickens (the Chairman of both the bank and the British Banking Association BBA fingers in the pie, one of several UK regulators also described as a banking lobby group which incredibly is a PLC:Public limited company, (a type of limited company whose shares may be sold to the public ) then Bob Diamond agreed to take the "fall" allegedly following advice from the Bank of England/ anonymous contacts in Whitehall.
This relatively small issue is the tip of a massive iceberg of banking fraud that has yet to be revealedBanking Fraud and Political Greed (across the G8).
A house of stacked cards
The Treasury select Committee Review. This, like the Leveson enquiry, has no judicial authority or executive clout but the proceedings were very "enlightening" re ethics and standards within a complex global banking group (and in public life). Bob Diamond talked openly of his long service at Barclays (he worked for Credit Suisse & Morgan Stanley and operated on the trading floor floor these major International Banks) and his love for its people (the bank have a staff base of 140,000 in over 50 countries worldwide). Its founders, the shy and unassuming Barclay brothers, live on a Channel Island tax haven and would, I am certain, disapprove of all the new financial instruments that have been created in the Banking/stock Market sectors since the turn of the millennium)The Men who stole the World. Throughout the afternoon proceedings, Mr Diamond asserted that within his organisation there was a very small reprehensible group of people whose trading fraud benefited them but not Barclays (14 of over 2000 staff on the trading floor were guilty: all fully engaged in Barclays staff appraisal scheme but Mr Diamond was not sure about their current status as approved, accredited traders since they had been "dealt with" by Barclays, or whether they are still allowed to work as "experts" in the sector). Having admitted that he was unaware of most of the internal issues.....Diamond kept insisting that the significant regrettable problems were "industry wide". This illogical/contradictory statement, from an expert in the field, typifies the afternoon's proceedings but the inquisitors presumably understand his decision to resign (from the "pack of traders" who have not been subjected to scrutiny yet on this issue). Barclays appears to have been arbitrarily picked out by unidentified officials "or possibly politicians" at Whitehall to be made an example of by the FSA(the city of London regulator). The British Banking Association oversee the setting of the daily price in London (incredibly, their honorary chairman is Agius a senior executive at Barclays and present on the day) and the US/UK regulators have levied fines of the order of £300m and $300m on both sides of the Atlanticfines:see investigation & scandal. One gets no insight into how these PLCs re-invest the fines in this "industry wide" appraisal, or who the losers are in the rate fixing scandal: recently, financial instruments which fail to make profits for lay customers/shareholders are compensated for by the same banks....just another licence to issue more electronic cash or banknotes to your cronies in the sector or the shareholders. The 2 world class law firms who were appointed to review internal practices at Barclays cost £100m so the company could "clean up its act". Diamond has faced severe criticism for his vast earnings over seventeen years of service with Barclays but has conceded it is an issue for the board (i.e Agius) to decide whether his bonuses, shareholdings and assets can be retained or severance package "honoured" (this alone is rumoured to be in the order of £30m). The Board members do not resign but their identities are published boldly on the company's excellent website. One of the treasury select committee, Theresa Pierce, pointed out that in the 283 page Barclays PLC report in 2011 the company mentioned risk 1734 times, profit 301 times, bonus 44 times, integrity 2 times but there were 0 references to ethics. Throughout the hearing Mr Diamond, denied involvement in, or awareness of, the reprehensible actions of rogue traders whose Email plots to fix interest rates were revealed by the regulators/SFA and had made the disgusted Mr Diamond "physically sick". So he denies awareness of these modernised banking methods (Agius was silent throughout the hearing) but he has acknowledged remorse on the gross misconduct in the sector and acknowledges fully "that banks need to be better citizens" and that the true test of corporate ethics is how "one behaves when nobody is watching". His inquisitors on the day (rightly indignant) reminded Mr Diamond that, under his watch, Barclays had been fined or censured severely for repeated breaches of SFA rules on transactions in Cuba, Iran, Libya, Sudan and Burma! These and incidents of missselling £60M of dodgy financial products to the elderly were also breaches of the bankers "rules" but because they had ocurred earlier in corporate history they were set aside quickly. Diamond is advisor to Boris Johnson (pictured above & Trustee of the Lord Mayor of London's Trust fund).
ALL OF THIS IS FOCUSSED NARROWLY ON ONE MERCHANT BANK (not the industry wide flaws). There are at least 16 other banks around the world who have much more than these disclosures to fear on the financial instruments this generation of bankers have refined to make bankers and staffers (and secretive/corrupt board members) unimaginably rich private or counterfeit funding?. I have become something of an "amateur banking expert" and I strongly disagree with Bob Diamond when he asserts that because only retail banks eventually collapsed in 2007-8 (BofS, halifax, Alliance & Leicester and Northern Rock were cited) that the Investment Banks were not creating the "issues". The entire proceedings were covered comprehensively by Sky TV news which is a very constructive start point for a renaissance in the reporting of international Fraud and malfeasance.
The industry wide issues that the regulators (with the very obvious conficts) and the UK media are persistently sidestepping is portrayed elsewhere on this site. Federal and Merchant Banks are flooding the market with new banknotes or electronic currency and issuing it to themselves and their elite friends and banking/stock market leaders. These 1 year old issues have been reported on by the US Senate, a Federal Bank audit and by objective critics of the US Government comprehensively (Diamond refered again and again to how proud he is that Barclays decided boldly to re-capitalise his ambitious bank with private funding (i.e not taxpayers but from other banks and wealthy "professional bankers" who had overseen the collapse of the too big to fail banks in 2007-8). Diamond hiked his reputation by asset stripping the insolvent bones of Lehman brothers. The sad news that banking leaders all over the Northern Hemisphere sector are borrowing and lending and fixing prices (across the Atlantic) seems to have been suppressed by the media in Europe but is old news in America already. This may not be entirely the fault of the press but the UK news vents still portray the bailouts to UK banks as taxpayer funded. The magnitude of the "private funding" shared between banks is staggering at 16 trillion dollars $16,000,000,000,000 which dwarfs the USA's government budget for one year (currently between 3.5 and 3.7 trillion) https://sites.google.com/site/profgeorgeleesrevelations/summits-of-international-greed)
But banking fraud is breaking news everywhere (and one applauds this) ...the British regulators have chosen rather arbitrarily to make an example of Barclays and its CEO Bob Diamond at only one of those banks on the very narrow issue of Libor price fixing which occurred quite some time ago. Channel Four News on the 3rd of July revealed that with his tax breaks, bonuses and negotiated salary that Bob Diamond has earned over well over £100 million from the Barclays group. Bob Diamond, is not a criminal simply because no charges have been levelled at him (one question made him blanche though: the reclassification of these these administrative and cultural failures as criminal offences with custodial jail sentences as an appropriate deterrent). This is easy to say but the corruption and the interplay between politicians, bankers and lawmakers makes it more difficult to implement. see The Sovereign Debt Crisis is an unprecedented corrupt scam (Ponzi scheme) for wealth divide. The legal/judicial system in the UK has become so corrupted it resembles the MAFIA hearings portrayed in the "Godfather". He (Diamond) like Jamie Dimon his US colleague,does lead this transatlantic criminal sector extremely efficiently but the referal to the Leveson enquiry typifies the UK governments "response" to fraud and corruption. These problems are easy to fix as quickly as they were created but it requires National governments to strive for a local economy, investment in local industry, food production and public and private sector jobs and a return to nationalisation of public services, utilities and an end to the millitary-industrial complexes that the G8 are using to bully the world into slavery and cheap labour. Devaluing property, rental costs and homes would kick start growth but easing and pyramid borrowing/lending lending need to be exposed for their mindless criminal implications. It is simple if you take the time to "have a close look", in Bob Diamond's parlance " at the people you love and all your International neighbours" and now that we are aware of the need for care and attention everyone is watching this sector (and the founding fathers in the tax havens) .