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Libor Isn’t Working

Thursday, June 28, 2012
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Barclays have been fined for fixing prices or interest rates. The London Interbank Offered Rate (Libor) interest rate is used to price loans and savings rates.

Savers might have received lower interest on their deposits from 2005, and borrowers may have been forced to pay more on their loans.

The UK’s Financial Services Authority has imposed its largest ever penalty of £59.5m, whilst the American Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) fined Barclay’s $200m (£128m) because of its “attempted manipulation of and false reporting concerning Libor and Euribor benchmark interest rates” The bank has agreed to pay a $160m penalty to the US Justice Department.

It is possible that senior managers might be fired, how far the corporate culture at Barclays is to blame is open to question.

Bob Diamond’s own words on the importance of Corporate Culture in last year’s Today Business Lecture may come back to haunt him.

“Culture is difficult to define, I think it’s even more difficult to mandate - but for me the evidence of culture is how people behave when no-one is watching.Our culture must be one where the interests of customers and clients are at the very heart of every decision we make; where we all act with trust and integrity. But it’s not just about how we behave towards our customers and clients. It’s also about how we work together with our colleagues, because if you have to deliver for customers with 150,000 colleagues around the world, as we do, you better be able to work as a team. As far as I’m concerned, if you can’t work well with your colleagues, with trust and integrity, you can’t be on the team. Culture truly helps define an organisation.”

The FSA isn’t certain about how far senior managers had turned a blind eye, or had encouraged traders to manipulate the Libor rates, but the politicians and some of the shareholders may not be so forgiving.

Although Bob Diamond has given up his bonus; this morning some politicians have suggested that he and other Barclay’s Board Members should go.

But a former chief executive of Barclays Martin Taylor is more blunt, and during an interview this morning said on BBC radio that Barclays’ actions amount to “systematic dishonesty”. The Prime Minister David Cameron and George Osborne observed that Barclays Bank management has “serious questions” to answer over how it manipulated banking lending rates. The Leader of The Opposition, Ed Miliband implied that criminal charges ought to be considered

What is LIBOR?


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