Denne artikkelen er skrevet av banksektor-journalist Sharlene Goff og -redaktør Patrick Jenkins for Financial Times. samarbeider med avisens nettside (se faktaboks til høyre).

The UK's financial regulator expressed concerns about cultural failings at Barclays under the leadership of Bob Diamond four months before the bank was hit with a fine that led to his dramatic resignation as chief executive.

The revelations came during Mr Diamond's three-hour grilling by a parliamentary committee on Wednesday, a day after he stepped down from Barclays over the record £290m fine it received for attempting to manipulate interbank lending rates.

Andrew Tyrie, chairman of the Treasury select committee, said the Financial Services Authority was concerned about a «breakdown of trust» with Barclays and had demanded a cultural change at the bank.

«They felt there were some cultural issues,» Mr Diamond admitted. However he said these centred on the behaviour of managers further down the organisation and stressed the FSA was «pleased with the tone at the top».

Mr Tyrie will ask Marcus Agius, Barclays' chairman, to release a document that he said detailed the February FSA meeting, according to someone close to the situation. Mr Agius announced on Monday that he would resign later in the year.

The discussions between Barclays and the FSA emerged in a sometimes tetchy appearance by Mr Diamond during which he staunchly defended the bank's staff and business practices.

He told MPs that a Bank of England official had drawn his attention to the bank's comparatively high lending rate submissions in October 2008, which he feared had sparked concerns within the government that Barclays would need to be nationalised.

Mr Diamond said other banks - including those that had required emergency government funding - were submitting lower rates than Barclays. «Whitehall might have thought 'My goodness they can't fund themselves we need to nationalise them',» he told the MPs.

The former chief executive said he was unaware until two weeks ago that a telephone discussion he had had in October 2008 with Paul Tucker, the senior BoE official, had prompted Barclays' staff to «lowball» the bank's Libor submissions. At the time, he had relayed a summary of that conversation by email to Jerry Del Missier, then co-head of investment banking.

«I wasn't aware of Libor manipulation in October 2008," Mr Diamond told the committee. "I found out [last] month.»

He could not explain why Mr Del Missier, who also resigned from Barclays on Tuesday, had "misunderstood" the email - and subsequent conversations - and instructed staff to submit artificially low borrowing rates.

In Mr Diamond's email he said Mr Tucker, referring to Barclays' submitted borrowing rates, had stressed that "it did not always need to be the case that we appeared as high as we have recently".

Denying Mr Tyrie's suggestion that this was a «nod and a wink» for the bank to lower its rates, Mr Diamond said he did not believe Mr Tucker's comment was «a directive». However he did reveal there had been other similar conversations with the BoE official and with the FSA.

Referring to earlier examples of Libor-rigging, the former chief executive said he had only recently seen emails sent between a group of traders who manipulated rates for personal gain between 2005 and 2007.

He condemned the «reprehensible» behaviour of these traders, saying the emails - in which they encouraged each other to manipulate lending rates in exchange for bottles of champagne - made him «physically ill».

«I'm sorry, disappointed and angry,» Mr Diamond said. «There is absolutely no excuse for the behaviour they exhibited.»

The former chief executive, who has been paid about £120m since joining Barclays' board in 2005, stopped short of volunteering to waive the £15m of share bonuses he could be owed by the bank, saying that was «certainly a question for the board».

Les også: Usammenhengende og angrende fra Diamond

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2012
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