BARCLAYS IS BRANDED A 'ROTTEN, THIEVING BANK' BY MP JOHN MANN
- By Louise Armitstead
Just when the Committee was getting bogged down in detail, John Mann, Labour MP for Bassetlaw, cut to the quick. “Can you remind me the three founding principles of the Quakers who founded Barclays?” he asked Bob Diamond.
As the deposed bank boss sat stoney-faced, Mann continued: "Honesty. Integrity. Plain dealing. That's the ethos of the bank you've just spent two hours telling us is doing so well - in fact so well that I wonder why you've not received an extra bonus rather than the sack."
He was just warming up. "You're the man in charge. But you're accepting all the good things and the bonuses [and] the people working for you are fiddling the system, potentially going to prison... give me a suggestion of how you're going to show contrition to those staff and customers who are wondering whether to take their money out of this rotten, thieving bank?"
Had Barclays, the venerable British bank that traces its roots back to 1690, really sunk so low?
Diamond himself has spent the previous 2hrs 23mins trying to persuade MPs that he had built a great and proud institution that had sullied by a minority. Yet large sections of the hearing focused on the degeneration of Barclays' culture.
Diamond started the session with several declarations of "I love Barclays". He said the actions taken to artificially influence the Libor rate were "not representative of the Barclays I know. There were mistakes, behaviour that was reprehensible." Later he tried: "I stand for a lot of people at Barclays that are really angry about this."
Yet Andrew Tyrie, chairman retorted that even Britain's financial regulators had lost faith in Barclays top management.
Andrea Leadsom, Conservative MP for South Northamptonshire, and herself a former Barclays banker, argued that presiding over a system where "individuals were remunerated just to look after No. 1," Diamond had taken Barclays out of the realms of reality.
"Do you live in a parallel universe to the rest of the UK?" she demanded. "You say it's the culture that saved Barclays, but it's the culture that's the problem."
Pat McFadden, a former Labour Treasury minister, agreed. "You have come to symbolize a culture that itself needs changing."
Diamond stuck to his lines that the scandal was wrong, but he didn't know about it and it was an industry problem.
"You were running that firm," Mudie said. "We know the behaviour was wrong. But the management in your place was extremely worrying."
Eventually to Mann's crushing summation, Diamond muttered: "I accept responsibility."
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