Tuesday 12 December 2017

Jeremy Warner: Is this Barclays scandal the beginning of the decline of London as a financial power-force?


IN the end, even Bob Diamond was unable to brazen this one out. The fact that – right up to the last moment – he thought he could will seem to many indicative of an industry where arrogance, lack of accountability and deluded self-belief reign supreme.

Or perhaps it was that having survived so many controversies – from his bank’s aggressive tax avoidance to its egregious levels of pay and the financial crisis itself – Mr Diamond thought he could do it again, that eventually all the fuss would die down and it would be back to business as usual. To the last, this far from quiet American refused to accept that the world had changed.

For all the highly paid lobbyists, lawyers and advisers applied to the task, Barclays has been unable to contain the political firestorm that engulfed the organisation after the interest-rate-rigging scandal emerged. Not even the resignation of the chairman, Marcus Agius – a futile gesture if ever there was one – could save Bob. In short order, the chief operating officer, Jerry del Missier, was also out the door, after it emerged that he was the man who gave the order to low-ball the Libor rate. Ridiculously, Mr Agius finds himself having to un-resign in order to find a new chief executive.

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