There’s Something Rotten in Banking
You might have missed the latest bank scandal, the one involving Barclays Plc (BARC), in the hubbub of last week’s U.S. health-care ruling and euro salvage plan.
If so, allow us to fill you in: On June 27, Barclays, the U.K.’s second-largest bank by assets, admitted it deliberately reported artificial borrowing costs from 2005 to 2009. The false reports were used to set a benchmark rate, the London interbank offered rate, or Libor, which affects the value of trillions of dollars of derivatives contracts, mortgages and consumer loans. The bank agreed to pay a hefty $455 million to settle charges with U.S. and U.K. regulators, and on Monday its chairman resigned.
Chief Executive Officer Robert Diamond, who has agreed to forfeit his bonus, shows no sign of following the chairman out the door. He should. In an apology to employees, Diamond wrote that some of the misconduct occurred on his watch, when he was head of Barclays Capital, the investment banking unit. Diamond was already in the doghouse with investors. In April, 27 percent of shareholders, upset that Barclays had missed profit targets, voted down his $19.5 million pay package.
Heads should roll at other banks, too. Regulators and criminal prosecutors, including the U.S. Justice Department, are investigating at least a dozen other firms to determine whether they colluded to rig the rate. Among them: Citigroup Inc., Deutsche Bank AG, HSBC Holdings Plc and UBS AG.