Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Did Barclays' Bob Diamond lie to Parliament? "I can't comment," says his former boss

The revelations continue regarding Barclays, and especially recently-departed Chief Executive Bob Diamond, the man behind the Barclays Center naming rights deal, and they aren't so flattering.

From today's print New York Times, Parliament Questions Culture at Barclays:
LONDON — During his tenure as chief executive of Barclays, Robert E. Diamond Jr. spoke passionately about creating a strong culture of integrity and trust, a common philosophy that would breed success at the big British Bank. In a speech last year, he emphasized that the “evidence of culture is how people behave when no one is watching.”

But now Mr. Diamond, who stepped down last week, faces criticism about his leadership as Barclays deals with fallout from a scandal involving interest rate manipulation.
Parliament is turning over some rocks, and yesterday it was Marcus Agius, who recently resigned as Barclays chairman:
In April, Adair Turner, chairman of the Financial Services Authority, wrote a letter to Mr. Agius, addressing what the regulator perceived as overly aggressive practices at the bank. He pointed to Barclays’ efforts to avoid paying around $774 million in corporate taxes and some of the bank’s accounting methods.
“Barclays often seems to be seeking to gain advantage through the use of complex structures, or through regulatory approaches which are at the aggressive end of interpretation of the relevant rules and regulations,” Mr. Turner wrote.
In his testimony on Tuesday, Mr. Agius said that Mr. Turner’s letter showed the bank’s “strained” relationship with the Financial Services Authority. “What that letter is saying is that we overdid it,” Mr. Agius said.
So that's a bit of chagrin.

Did Diamond lie?

The article continues by raising questions about whether Diamond lied to Parliament:
The correspondence between Barclays and British regulators appears to contradict evidence that Mr. Diamond gave last week to the same parliamentary committee.
In his testimony, Mr. Diamond indicated that the bank maintained a good relationship with the British regulator. He also said that he did not recall that the regulator had raised concerns about the bank’s activities or its internal culture.
“I knew nothing about it at the time that I was appointed,” Mr. Diamond told the parliamentary committee last week.
British politicians repeatedly asked Mr. Agius on Tuesday whether Mr. Diamond had been completely forthcoming during his testimony.
“Would you say that Mr. Diamond lied to this committee?” David Ruffley, a member of Parliament, asked Mr. Agius.
“I can’t comment on Mr. Diamond’s testimony,” the Barclays chairman said.
That's not a vote of confidence.

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