PUBLISHED: 13:47 GMT, 27 June 2012 | UPDATED: 17:51 GMT, 28 June 2012
Barclays chief executive Bob Diamond today faced demands for his resignation as shares in the bank slumped after it was fined a record £290million for rigging interest rates.
Labour leader Ed Miliband called for a criminal investigation into the scandal which is set to engulf a number of other top British banks.
Serious Fraud Office investigators are in talks with the City watchdog over the affair, Chancellor George Osborne said, while an ongoing US criminal probe helped increase demands for similar action this side of the Atlantic.
Barclays' shares closed 15.5 per cent lower at 165.6p today, wiping £3.2 billion from its value.
right), was fined a record £290million for rigging interest rates
Mr Diamond has agreed to give up his bonus following the scandal, which involved Barclays and other banks fixing crucial interest rates to mask the scale of their bad debts.
But pressure is growing for him to quit, and the value of Barclays shares fell dramatically today at the prospect of future instability at Britain's third-largest bank.
It follows the release of devastating emails which show how bonus-hungry traders promised each other bottles of Bollinger champagne to fix the figures which affect millions of homeowners and small firms.
The rates affect borrowers because they influence how much they pay on variable rate loans and mortgages, and they can also mean lower returns for savers.
Mr Osborne today told MPs that Barclays was 'not alone' in its efforts to rig rates.
The City regulator said other banks were caught up in the probe – with Lloyds, HSBC and Royal Bank of Scotland admitting they were also being investigated.
It is thought that Barclays provided the watchdog with useful information, with the US Department of Justice referring to its 'extraordinary co-operation', which helped to save it from a criminal prosecution.
But, speaking to the union Unite, Mr Miliband said: 'This cannot be about a slap on the wrist, a forgoing of bonuses, a fine and that's the end of the matter.
'When ordinary people break the law, they face the full force of the law. The people who have done the wrong thing should face the full force of the law, including criminal proceedings.
'The Government should urgently look at the regulation of banking in this area so this never happens again.'
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'Shocking indictment': George Osborne said the FSA's ongoing investigations 'concern a number of institutions both based in the UK and overseas'
Barclays' share price dropped sharply as Mr Osborne updated MPs on a report by the Financial Services Authority (FSA), which he said was 'a shocking indictment of the culture of banks like Barclays in the run-up to the crisis'.
The Chancellor said he would look at strengthening the criminal sanctions available to the FSA.
And he said the Financial Services Bill could be amended in response to the scandal.
The fine was imposed on Barclays by the FSA and US regulators over attempts to rig the Libor (London Interbank Offered Rate) and Euribor interbank lending rates.
'Serious, widespread misconduct': Barclays bank (Canary Wharf HQ pictured) was fined £59.5million by the FSA and also agreed payments to authorities in the U.S. bringing its total liability to £290million
But Mr Osborne told MPs: 'Barclays are not alone in this. The FSA is continuing to investigate the conduct of a number of other banks in relation to Libor.'
Mr Osborne said the FSA's ongoing investigations 'concern a number of institutions both based in the UK and overseas.'
'But it is already clear that the FSA's investigation demonstrates systemic failures at the heart of the financial system at the time,' he said.
The Chancellor added: 'The email exchanges between derivative traders and the Libor submitters read like an epitaph to an age of irresponsibility.
'Through 2005, 2006 and early 2007 we see evidence of systematic greed at the expense of financial integrity and stability.'
But, he added, no-one at Barclays prevented them, the tri-partite regulatory system failed to prevent it and the Labour government was 'literally clueless' about what was going on.
Mr Osborne said the Government was tearing up the tri-partite system of regulation for the financial system.
The Financial Services Bill, which is going through Parliament, will create a tougher regime, he said.
Difficult day: How Barclays shares plunged today over fears about the fate of its leadership and possible lawsuits in the wake of the scandal
Mr Osborne added that the Government would consider strengthening criminal sanctions for City abuse.
'As part of our review into Libor and the strength of the financial regulatory architecture, we will examine if there are any gaps in the criminal regime inherited by this Government and we will take the necessary steps to address that,' he said.
'I cannot comment today on possible criminal investigations for individuals involved in this activity.
'The authorities are exploring every avenue open to them, but shockingly the scope of the FSA's criminal powers, granted by the previous government, do not extend to being able to impose criminal sanctions for manipulation of Libor.'
The offences took place between 2005 and 2009 in Barclays Capital, the bank's investment banking arm, which was run at the time by Mr Diamond.
Lord Oakeshott, the Lib Dem peer, said: ‘The whole City knew Barclays Capital under Bob Diamond was a casino, but not that they were rigging the wheels and loading the dice.
‘This does terrible damage to Barclays’ own reputation, the integrity of the City of London and many people’s waning trust in capitalism and free markets.
MORE BIG BANKS FACE QUESTIONS IN LIBOR INVESTIGATION
Barclays is not the only bank under scrutiny over the manipulation of lending rates, known as Libor and Euribor, which are used across the financial world to price products worth trillions of pounds.
Sixteen banks set Libor, and it has emerged that some of these are also facing questions on both sides of the Atlantic.
The Financial Services Authority is investigating banks with either headquarters or subsidiary businesses based in the UK.
It has already published its report into wrongdoing at Barclays and its probe is also investigating activities at Lloyds, HSBC and Royal Bank of Scotland.
The US Department of Justice has said that criminal investigations into 'other financial institutions and individuals' are ongoing.
Financial institutions also believed to be under the regulators' microscope include UBS of Switzerland, JP Morgan, Deutsche Bank, and Citigroup of the US.
'If he had a scintilla of shame, he would resign. If Barclays' board had an inch of backbone between them, they would sack him.'
Prime Minister David Cameron said: 'This is a scandal. It is extremely serious.
'They've had a very large fine and quite rightly.
'But frankly the Barclays management team have some big questions to answer.
'How did this happen? Who was responsible Who's going to be held accountable for it? These are issues they need to determine and determine quite rapidly.
'In terms of what happens next, I would say that the regulator should use all the powers and means at their disposal to pursue this in the way they feel is appropriate.
'I would also make the point that this happened some years ago, under a previous government. The rules in place of a previous government.
'We are changing these rules and if there is more we can do to toughen them up, we'll take that action.
'I think the whole management team have got some serious questions to answer. Let them answer those questions first.'
The conspiracy involved interest rates on the wholesale money markets, where banks lend to each other.
It emerged traders colluded to set artificially low rates to con the markets into believing the banks were in good financial shape in the run-up to the credit crunch.
Fixing the figures also allowed bankers to make money by taking out bets on the way the rates would move.
The rate banks pay to raise money affects how much they charge on loans and mortgages.
Scathing: Liberal Democrat peer Lord Oakeshott said Mr Diamond should either resign or be sacked
An increase can add hundreds of pounds to households’ annual mortgage repayments or a loan to a small business.
It also influences savings rates. If banks can borrow more cheaply from each other then they don't need to offer such good returns to savers.
Business Secretary Vince Cable insisted it would be 'seriously premature' to decide now whether Mr Diamond should be sacked but said the Government had powers to disqualify directors.
He told the Business, Innovation and Skills committee: 'There are last resort powers of director disqualification as you know, and we have many hundreds a year who are subject to that action.
'If the facts suggested action - and obviously we would be subject to legal advice; this is a legal process - then indeed that could well follow. That certainly is a sanction open to us, yes.'
He added: 'I think it is premature to decide what exactly should happen to Mr Diamond, whether it is in respect of his pay or tenure or any other aspect.
'The point that was made in Parliament this morning was that he has a lot of questions to answer and I think some of those questions are actually going to be put when he comes before the Treasury select committee, which is right.
'Depending on what those questions produce, the people responsible for his company can decide on the appropriate action but I think it is seriously premature to decide now what action should be taken.'
Former Barclays chief executive Sir Martin Taylor said the bank should explain who knew what about the practices.
REVELATIONS SEND SHARES IN OTHER BANKS PLUMMETING
Shares in high street banks Lloyds, Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) and HSBC fell today as the rate-rigging revelations sparked uncertainty on the markets.
At 11.55am shares in Lloyds were down almost six per cent after the bank admitted it was also being investigated over the alleged fixing of interest rates.
The bank's share price had dropped by 1.9p to 29.26p.
RBS shares were down by 6.7 per cent, falling by 15.6p to 217.47p.
Shares in HSBC Holdings Plc plunged 2.6 per cent to 558p - 15p lower than at the close of yesterday's trading.
At 9.15am the FTSE 100 Index was at 5487.5 - 35.8 points lower than when trading began.
Sir Martin, who ran the bank from 1993 until 1998, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: 'The question of how high up knowledge of this goes is something only Barclays can answer. I think they should answer.'
These organisations are very large, as I know myself, and the chief executive doesn’t always know everything that’s happening in the organisation, though he’s responsible for setting the tone of the organisation.
'But somebody at senior level somewhere will certainly have known. I can’t believe Barclays haven’t identified who that is.
'They’ve been investigating for years, so have the FSA, and no doubt they will take appropriate action.
'It’s really for the board to decide whether Bob Diamond, who has amazing leadership qualities and huge personal following in the organisation, can be the person to turn the page on this, or whether he’s part of the problem.'
Mayor of London Boris Johnson said the attempted manipulation was a 'very, very dodgy practice indeed' and urged all banks to 'come clean'.
Asked by the BBC if Mr Diamond should quit, he replied: 'It's not for me to say who is culpable in this but plainly banks have been forthcoming in getting their dirty linen out there. I think that the whole banking industry now needs to come clean on what's been going on.'
Mr Johnson added: 'I think that if there has been criminal activities then clearly people need to pay the price and I think to manipulate interest rates for gain looks to me like a very, very dodgy practice indeed.'
Sir George Mathewson, the former chairman and chief executive of Royal Bank of Scotland, said: 'If senior management knew (what) was going on, then they deserve all that they're going to get because that is unacceptable.'
Asked whether Mr Diamond should resign, he said: 'I wouldn't make as quick a judgement as that. I think that possibility should exist.
'I think that his case is interesting in as much he’s really the first chief executive of a UK bank to command the sorts of rewards he’s receiving and, as such, there should be a very high expectation of him.'
Treasury Committee member Pat McFadden told BBC Breakfast: 'You really have to wonder. Bob Diamond says this was counter to the values of the bank - you’ve got to wonder what the values really are in the bank, if this was the behaviour at quite senior levels of its investment banking division.
'The board of Barclays, if they are sitting this morning, thinking, "we’ve paid the fine, we’ve co-operated with the inquiry, that’s the end of it", I think that would be a real mistake.
'I don’t think they should underestimate the damage this has done to their reputation and probably to banking more generally.'
Yesterday senior executives at Barclays said they would give up their bonuses for this year as a result of the record fine.
But the National Association of Pension Funds (NAPF) said there were now questions over bonus payments made in previous years, when the interbank lending rate rigging took place.
David Paterson, head of corporate governance at the NAPF, said: 'This issue raises doubts about previous remuneration which need to be answered.
'Barclays should use its clawback rules to penalise those involved by recovering bonuses and pay.'
He said there was also likely to have been direct implications for pension funds of the Libor manipulation, but stressed it was 'hard to pin down' and could have happened through a range of financial instruments.
Mr Diamond's decision to waive this year's bonus entitlement will do little to appease anger at the bank's conduct, given his windfalls from previous years.
Once described by Lord Mandelson as the 'unacceptable face of banking', Mr Diamond is one of the world's richest bankers, having amassed an estimated wealth of around £95 million.
He received a £2.7million annual bonus last year, but his total pay package soared to £17.7 million when benefits and vested long-term share awards last year were taken into account.
The revelations throw fresh scrutiny on an industry already marred by public outrage at mis-selling scandals and the RBS computer glitch chaos.
In one of the emails, a trader at a different bank wrote to ‘Trader G’ at Barclays: ‘Dude. I owe you big time! Come over one day after work and I’m opening a bottle of Bollinger.’
Other emails revealed how they would ‘shout’ across the desk at each other to ‘beg’ for the interest rate to be fixed at a certain level in the hope of making millions for themselves.
Another said: ‘Coffees will be coming your way either way, just to say thank you for your help in the past few weeks.’
On the hook: Chief Operating Officer Jerry Del Missier, left, CEO Rich Ricci, centre, and Finance Director Chris Lucas, right have all agreed not to take a bonus this year along with Mr Diamond
His colleague replied: ‘Done...for you big boy.’
The devastating 44-page dossier, published by the Financial Services Authority, revealed the ruthless tactics used by traders to try to fix the wholesale rates.
They wanted to keep the rates artificially low as a high Libor rate suggests a bank is weaker than other banks because it is being charged a higher rate of interest to borrow money.
It is understood that between ten and 20 rogue dealers were involved, all of whom are being or have been dismissed.
The British Bankers' Association (BBA) launched a review into Libor and how it was set in March.
In a statement, the BBA said: 'As part of this review we will now be asking the authorities to consider in what manner the Libor setting mechanism should be regulated in the future.'
Former Labour chancellor Alistair Darling said: 'We're kidding ourselves if we think that this was the only country where this sort of thing was going on.
WHY HAVEN'T WE SEEN A CRIMINAL INVESTIGATION ALREADY?
Ed Miliband's demand for a criminal inquiry into wrongdoing at Barclays has brought the powers of the City watchdog under the spotlight.
Although the Financial Services Authority can issue fines for rigging interest rates - as Barclays has found to its cost - it cannot begin criminal proceedings against anyone for the offence.
Its statutory powers for criminal investigation extend only to cases of insider dealing and share frauds, such as 'boiler room frauds' where victims are duped into investing in sham companies.
George Osborne today announced plans to change this, promising legislation to strengthen the criminal sanctions open to the FSA.
The Serious Fraud Office could begin a criminal probe into rate-rigging offences.
But a spokesman for City of London Police, which has specialist officers to investigate economic crime, declined to comment on whether the force had received any complaints about the findings of the FSA report.
'The American authorities are just as concerned as our authorities, and it is symptomatic of a culture that prevailed for a lot of the last decade, where frankly anything was allowed to go.'
He suggested Libor had to have some degree of independent supervision and 'can't be a work of fiction'.
He urged the FSA to 'take out of banks and put off the road those people who were responsible for doing this, those people who've tolerated it and those people who gained and condoned it'.
Mr Darling added: 'If that isn't done, then we have no chance whatsoever of moving on from this in what remains a very important industry for this country.'
Last night the chairman of the Commons Treasury committee Andrew Tyrie said Mr Diamond would be summoned to explain what had happened.
‘This is appalling. It just beggars belief that this sort of attitude should have been so widespread,’ he told Channel 4 News.
‘The crucial thing now is to make sure that it is being cleared up. That is why we will be calling in Bob Diamond to make sure that what’s required had been done in Barclays to improve the culture.
‘Banks were clearly acting in concert. I fear it’s not going to be the end of the story, that we are going to find that other banks have been involved.’
Yesterday Mr Diamond and three of his fellow executives – Rich Ricci, Jerry del Missier and Chris Lucas – admitted their role in the scandal.
Mr Diamond said they will not take a penny in bonus this year ‘to reflect our collective responsibility as leaders’.
It caps an extraordinarily humiliating time for Barclays.
HOW BARCLAYS TRADERS CONSPIRED TO FIX THE MARKETS
Between 2005 and 2009, more than 200 requests were sent, usually by email or instant messenger - by traders to the Barclays Libor submitters.
In one example of several provided by the FSA, a trader emailed the Barclays Libor submitter in March 2006, writing: 'The big day [has] arrived… My NYK are screaming at me about an unchanged 3(month) libor. As always, any help wd be greatly appreciated. What do you think you’ll go for 3(month)?'
The submitter replied: 'I am going 90 altho 91 is what I should be posting.'
The trader thanked him, saying: '..when I retire and write a book about this business your name will be written in golden letters.'
The submitter then replied: 'I would prefer this [to] not be in any book!'
In another example from April 2006, a trader requested low one month and three month US dollar Libor rates shortly before the submission was due.
He asked: 'If it’s not too late low 1m and 3m would be nice, but please feel free to say “no”... Coffees will be coming your way either way, just to say thank you for your help in the past few weeks.'
The submitter replied: 'Done... for you big boy.'
In January last year, it was found guilty of enticing elderly customers to gamble their life savings on the stock market. Around 12,000 loyal customers lost half their savings.
Some were left more than £110,000 out of pocket. In February this year, it was found guilty of a ruthless tax avoidance plot to rob taxpayers of around £500million.
In April, its bills for the compensation to victims of the mis-selling of payment protection insurance jumped by £300million to £1.3billion.
Yesterday FSA said it had fined Barclays £59.5million, the largest fine that it has ever handed out in its history. The rest of the £290million was levied by American authorities.
Tracey McDermott, acting director of enforcement and financial crime at the FSA, said: ‘Barclays’ misconduct was serious, widespread and extended over a number of years.’
She slammed the bank’s bad behaviour, which began in 2005 and continued until 2010, as ‘wholly unacceptable’.
Up to 20 traders have been fired recently by Barclays, including some who were kicked out yesterday, and are likely to face calls to pay back the bonuses scooped in previous years.
The FSA said it was pursing ‘a number of other significant cross-border investigations’, with further announcements expected over the next few months.
At around noon every day, the Libor rate is published by the British Bankers’ Association, based on rates submitted by dozens of banks, including Barclays.
Each bank has staff working as ‘submitters’ who file their daily Libor rates – and it is these submitters who were being told by traders and even senior managers to file a false figure.
The figure they should file is the rate at which the bank thinks it can borrow money that day. The rate they actually filed was the rate which suited their trades and the bank’s image.
For example, some traders would try to fiddle the Libor rate filed by the submitters to maximise the profits from the complex trades they were making.
In the shocking ‘Bollinger’ email, for example, the trader wrote: ‘If it [Libor] comes in unchanged, I’m a dead man.’ Another email was: ‘We’re all rooting for a high Libor tomorrow.’
The Libor rate is set in the City (pictured) each day and is a benchmark for the cost of borrowing and is included in millions of financial contracts all around the world
During the credit crunch in 2007, the FSA said senior managers at Barclays put pressure on the submitters to file low Libor rates to make the bank look stronger than it was.
The credit crunch began in August 2007. From September, the FSA said: ‘Barclays determined its Libor submissions whilst taking senior management’s concerns about negative media comment into account.’
One submitter wrote in an email that the bank would try to file the same Libor rates as other banks ‘or else the rumours will start flying about Barclays needing money because its Libors are so high’.
Labour MP George Mudie, who sits on the Treasury Select Committee, said: ‘It is a major scandal and it is a scandal that affects the integrity of the financial system.’
Yesterday the British Bankers’ Association said it began an investigation into the way Libor is calculated in March.
Barclays chairman Marcus Agius said: ‘The board takes the issues underlying the announcement extremely seriously and views them with the utmost regret.’
Not a good corporate citizen... Mr Diamond took to the airwaves last year claiming that he wanted to be one however
Another day and another monumental banking scandal is revealed, this time at Barclays, the lender run by Bob Diamond, who took to the airwaves this year claiming he wanted to be a good corporate citizen.
Diamond’s remarks, at a time when the bank was under investigation on both sides of the Atlantic for manipulating interest rates, look to be humbug of the worst kind.
Under pressure from regulators in the City and Washington, Barclays has confessed to reprehensible behaviour and paid a whopping fine of £290million.
Its senior staff, including Diamond, chief operating officer Jerry del Missier and head of investment banking Rich Ricci, have all agreed to give up their annual bonuses for 2012.
The tarnish on the reputations of Barclays’ top brass will not go away and there may be questions as to whether they can survive this latest outrage.
The disclosures come in a bad week for the high street banks. The systems meltdown at the Royal Bank of Scotland has caused untold anguish to millions of ordinary households and businesses.
Meanwhile, the banks – including Barclays – are to be investigated by the City regulator, the Financial Services Authority, for mis-selling complex loans to tens of thousands of businesses up and down the country, sending some firms to the wall when the interest rate on the advances unexpectedly soared.
The Barclays wrongdoing focuses on the British and European wholesale money markets, where banks and large corporations lend to each other.
Barclays traders contrived to rig the interest rates in these markets – known as the London Interbank Rate (Libor) and the European Interbank Rate (Euribor) – by making sophisticated bets to make trading gains. It is understood that between ten and 20 rogue dealers were involved, all of whom are being or have been dismissed.
Barclays may be the first of the banks to acknowledge their culpability in seeking to fix and manipulate interest rates, but it will not be alone. It is expected other banks including RBS, Credit Suisse and JP Morgan are among a long list of lenders in discussion with the regulator over their roles in seeking to influence the market interest rate.
What is perhaps most damaging to Barclays is the ‘barrow boy’ style language used by the traders at the centre of the trade, with dealers calling each other ‘dude’ and ‘chicken’ and promising bottles of Bollinger for being let in on the scam.
The disclosures, which date back several years, serve only to underline the view that investment banks are no more than casinos gambling other people’s money.
The most intriguing aspect of the market manipulation was that which took place at the height of the great financial panic in 2007-08. Barclays executives were panicked by market and media speculation that the bank was in trouble because it was bidding a higher interest rate than other banks to borrow cash in the money markets.
An instruction went out to lower the bids and make the bank look safer than it might otherwise appear. Paradoxically, this may have led to customers, such as big companies, being able to borrow at cheaper rates than otherwise would have been the case.
The latest disgrace for Barclays and the whole financial system can only increase the deep distrust of the public in the integrity of the City and the bankers.
Many will wonder why nearly five years after the financial crisis there has never been a full Leveson-style judicial inquiry into their behaviour, holding those who brought the economy crashing down responsible for their actions.
LIBOR: THE 'GLOBAL ECONOMY'S PULSE-RATE'
WHAT IS LIBOR? It stands for the London interbank offer rate and is the interest banks charge to borrow from each other. Banks rely on this money to lend to customers and businesses. Its equivalent in Europe is called Euribor.
HOW DOES IT AFFECT ME? The rate banks pay to raise money affects how much they charge on loans and mortgages. An increase in Libor can add hundreds of pounds to households’ annual mortgage repayments or a loan to a small business.
This was seen with dramatic effect in the run up to the financial crisis, when Libor soared and lenders raised their rates. It is also used as the benchmark for trillions of pounds in complex financial investments.
Three-month sterling LIBOR from 2006 to 2012: The rate broadly runs in line with the UK base rate except for the crunch period in 2008 and in recent months
HOW IS IT SET? The rate is set every morning by a panel of banks and overseen by trade body the British Bankers’ Association. Each bank sets the rates at which it believes it can borrow, from overnight to 12 months. There are 150 Libor rates, spanning ten currencies and 15 time periods.
WHAT HAS BARCLAYS BEEN DOING? Barclays’ traders speculating on movements in interest rates were manipulating Libor in an effort to make huge profits.
Its traders were conspiring with the ‘submitters’ at the bank which lodge their Libor rates every morning. Depending on the way they were betting, traders would urge these submitters to increase the Libor rate or lower it.
Barclays’ traders also conspired with ex-employees working at other banks to try to influence their Libor submissions. During the financial crisis Barclays also fiddled the figures to dupe the market into thinking it was more financially sound than it was.
Libor is often seen as a barometer of how healthy a bank is. Just as customers with bad credit records have to pay higher interest rates, banks which are deemed in poor financial health are charged more to borrow. Barclays became anxious that its Libor rate was higher than many of its peers and that they were fiddling the figures. It decided to join the party.
ARE ANY OTHER BANKS DOING THIS? It is likely this is just the tip of the iceberg. Barclays is just the first to get caught.
For the last two years a dozen regulators on three continents have been combing through the files of more than 20 banks involved in the rate setting process.
Swiss bank UBS is understood to have already suspended a number of traders. Royal Bank of Scotland, Lloyds, and HSBC yesterday said they were helping the Financial Services Authority with its enquiries.
In the House: George Osborne calls for answers from Barclays boss...
David Cameron: Barclays management 'have serious questions to answer'