LONDON -- Former Barclays CEO Bob Diamond offered a "highly selective" account to a parliamentary hearing on the banking rate-fixing scandal, British lawmakers said Saturday in a highly critical report.
In its report regarding manipulation of a key inter-bank interest rate, Parliament's Treasury committee demanded sweeping changes to regulation of the banking industry, calling for authorities to get wider powers to prosecute offenders.
Barclays has been fined $453 million by U.S. and British agencies for feeding false data which went into calculations of the London interbank offered rate, known as LIBOR, a market index that influences the costs of a range of financial instruments, including home mortgages.
The committee criticized both the Bank of England and the Financial Services Authority over failures to uncover the scandal sooner, and said it was highly unlikely that the practice of rate-fixing was confined to one bank.
"The sustained rigging of a crucial benchmark rate has done great damage to the U.K.'s reputation. Public trust in banks is at an all-time low," committee Chairman Andrew Tyrie said. "Urgent improvements, both to the way banks are run and the way they are regulated, is needed if public and market confidence is to be restored. The manipulation was spotted neither by the FSA nor the Bank of England at the time. That doesn't look good."
Tyrie said his committee was calling for higher fines for firms that fail to cooperate with regulators, a tightening of laws to make it easier to prosecute rate-fixing offenses, and stronger governance from the Bank of England – which was criticized as naive and "relatively inactive," over manipulation of the LIBOR rate.
In evidence given to the panel at a hearing in July, Diamond appeared to suggest that a Bank of England executive had encouraged Barclays to manipulate rate data – a charge the bank has denied.
Legislators said they believed they had been misled by Diamond.
"Select committees are entitled to expect candor and frankness from witnesses before them. Mr. Diamond's evidence, at times highly selective, fell well short of the standard that Parliament expects, particularly from such an experienced and senior witness," Tyrie said.
In response, Diamond said he strongly rejects the committee's allegations about his own testimony and attack on his former bank's reputation.
"I answered every question that was put to me to me truthfully, candidly and based on information available to me," Diamond said in a statement. "I categorically refute any suggestion to the contrary."
He said the committee's claims that Barclays had a corporate culture "that had gone badly awry," were misplaced.
"The picture being presented today of what Barclays stood for under my watch could not be further from the truth. There is no question that the behavior of a small group of traders related to LIBOR manipulation was reprehensible and not in keeping with Barclays' high standards," he said.
Britain's government has announced that Tyrie will lead a Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards, intended to look at steps needed to restore confidence in the country's banking sector.
"The manipulation of key global benchmark rates has been another example of a culture of irresponsibility within the banking system, which the Government is determined to fix as quickly as possible," Britain's Treasury said in a statement.
Also on HuffPost:
Barclays Begins Manipulating Libor Rate
Barclays allegedly began manipulating the Libor rate in 2005 and allegedly stopped manipulating Libor in 2009, <a href="http://www.businessweek.com/news/2012-07-11/barclays-u-dot-s-dot-say-libor-probe-doesn-t-affect-2010-case" target="_hplink">according to <em>Businessweek</em>.</a> But other reports indicate that <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/09/libor-scandal-manipulation-spanned-decades_n_1658696.html" target="_hplink">Libor fixing may have spanned decades.</a>
Barclays Employee Admits Libor Is Being Rigged
A Barclays employee told an analyst from the New York Fed's Markets Group that Barclays was indeed using false information to set the interest rate on April 11, 2008, according to <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/13/geithner-libor_n_1671211.html" target="_hplink">recently released Federal Reserve documents</a>. "We know that we're not posting, um, an honest LIBOR," the Barclays employee told the New York Fed's Fabiola Ravazzolo, according to a <a href="http://www.newyorkfed.org/newsevents/news/markets/2012/libor/April_11_2008_transcript.pdf" target="_hplink">transcript of the phone conversation.</a>
Geithner Privately Expresses Concern Over Libor's Integrity
In June 2008, then-president of the New York Federal Reserve Timothy Geithner sent a memo to British banking authorities expressing concern over the "integrity and transparency" of the key interest rate. Geithner did not inform British regulators that a Barclays employee admitted that Libor was being rigged, <a href="http://in.reuters.com/article/2012/07/25/geithner-libor-idINL4E8IP17720120725" target="_hplink">according to Reuters.</a>
Banks Ripped Off The Government During Bailout
During the 2008 Financial Crisis, the U.S. government lent money to cash strapped banks and AIG using Libor to determine interest, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mark-gongloff/timothy-geithner-libor_b_1701904.html" target="_hplink">Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner told Congress on July 25, 2012.</a> The artificially low rate saved the banks and AIG billions, while costing tax payers the same amount.
Peter Mandelson: Barclays CEO The "Unacceptable Face Of Banking"
In April 2010, then-UK Business Secretary Peter Mandelson told the<em>Times of London</em> that then-CEO of Barclays, Robert Diamond, was "the unacceptable face of banking" after the bank announced that its CEO would receive a bonus of 63 million pounds, <a href="http://news.sky.com/story/771318/mandelson-attacks-bank-boss-for-63m-salary" target="_hplink">Sky News reports.</a> Mandelson also told <em>the Times</em> that banking bosses were expected to act with "a bit more modesty, a bit more humility" than Diamond's behavior.
Barclays Fined $450 Million
On June 27, Barclays disclosed to its shareholders that it would be fined $450 million by U.S. and U.K. regulators for conspiring to manipulate the Libor rate between 2005 and 2009, <a href="http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/banksandfinance/9374118/Barclays-libor-fixing-scandal-timeline.html" target="_hplink"><em>The Telegraph</em> reports</a>.
Barclays Chairman Resigns
On July 2, <a href="http://group.barclays.com/news/news-article/1329925915887/navigation-1330349038798" target="_hplink">Barclays announced</a> that it's Chairman, Marcus Agius, would be resigning in the wake of the Libor rigging scandal. In the official resignation letter, Mr. Agius stated that the Libor rigging constituted "unacceptable standards of behaviour within the bank." He went on to say: <blockquote>As Chairman, I am the ultimate guardian of the bank's reputation. Accordingly, the buck stops with me and I must acknowledge responsibility by standing aside."</blockquote>
Robert Diamond Resigns As Barclays CEO
On July 3, Robert Diamond resigned as Barclays CEO, <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/barclays-boss-diamond-quits-with-immediate-effect-latest-scalp-of-price-fixing-scandal/2012/07/03/gJQAFeDxJW_story.html" target="_hplink"><em>The Washington Post</em> reports.</a>
Marcus Agius Re-Appointed As Barclays Chairman
On July 3, <a href="http://www.newsroom.barclays.com/Press-releases/Board-changes-907.aspx" target="_hplink">Barclays announced</a> that Marcus Agius would be reappointed as the bank's full-time Chairman following the resignation of Robert Diamond.
Did The Bank of England Encourage Barclays?
On July 3, Barclays released phone records between CEO Robert Diamond and the Deputy Governor of the Bank of England, Paul Tucker, that indicate that the BoE executive encouraged Barclays to manipulate the Libor rate, <a href="http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702304141204577506602345146644.html" target="_hplink"><em>The Wall Street Journal </em>reported.</a>
Diamond Goes Before Parliament
On July 4, Bob Diamond told a U.K. parliamentary panel that he believes other major banks were involved in Libor rigging, <a href="http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702304141204577506602345146644.html" target="_hplink"><em>The Wall Street Journal</em> reports.</a> He also stated that fear of being nationalized during the 2008 Financial Crisis contributed to its actions.
Bob Diamond Loses His $31 Million Bonus
Barclays CEO Bob Diamond agreed to forgo an extra $31 million bonus, the bank announced on July 10, according to the <a href="http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702303343404577518263465180508.html" target="_hplink">reports <em> Wall Street Journal</em>.</a> Diamond will still net his salary and pension for a year, which is worth about 2 million pounds.
At Least 16 Banks Under Investigation
At least 16 banks were reportedly under investigation for Libor rigging as of July 11, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/11/libor-rate-scandal_n_1664737.html#slide=1212066" target="_hplink">according to Reuters.</a> In an internal bank memo circulated on July 13, Barclays executive committee told employees that, "As other banks settle with authorities, and their details become public, and various governments' inquiries shed more light, our situation will eventually be put in perspective," <a href="http://business.time.com/2012/07/16/libor-rigging-what-the-regulators-saw-but-didnt-shut-down/" target="_hplink"><em>TIME Magazine</em> reports.</a>
EU Weighs Criminalizing Rate Rigging
On July 25, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/25/eu-criminalizing-rate-rigging_n_1701248.html?utm_hp_ref=business" target="_hplink">the European Union proposed making the rigging of international interest rates a criminal offense.</a>