Barclays: What’s a little interest rate change between friends and a bottle of bolly?
Let me get this straight. Traders at Barclays bank actively manipulated one of the world’s most important interest rates, which affects the mortgage rate millions of people pay on their homes? They did this secretly and deliberately in order to increase their profits? They did this as favours to each other, and promised each other bottles of Bolly in return? They did it so casually that that they said things like “low one million and three million would be nice”? They said things like “dude, I owe you big time”?
Yes, it seems they did. Barclays traders really did play around with the Libor (the London interbank offered rate), at least according to regulators, which is a cornerstone of the credit markets, and affects everything from the value of complex derivatives to small business loans. It’s meant to be calculated based on what an elite panel of banks says it costs them to borrow money from each other. But it seems to have been calculated on lies.
Barclays bank didn’t lie once, or twice, or a few times. It lied “on an almost daily basis” in the information it published to the market, according to a US regulator. Its lies affected the financial circumstances of millions of people in the world. And its response? “I am sorry that some people acted in a manner not consistent with our culture and values,” said Bob Diamond yesterday. That, by the way, is the Bob Diamond who said in a Today programme lecture last year that “the evidence of a culture is how people behave when no one is watching”. It’s also the Bob Diamond who earned, if you can call it earning, £28.3m last year.
He’s so sorry that he is, he says, going to forgo his bonus. He isn’t going to resign. It doesn’t look as though anyone’s going to resign. It doesn’t look as though anyone’s going to take any responsibility at all for any aspect of one of the most shocking banking stories to emerge at a time when shocking banking stories hit the headlines nearly every day.
The board should resign. Criminal prosecutions should be launched into these allegations. But it’s also time for the rest of us to take action. I know it’s a hassle, but if you bank with Barclays you should stop it now. It’s time for us all to put our money where our mouth is – and not in the hands of people who look very much like liars.Tagged in: barclays, bob diamond, bolly, interest rate, Libor
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