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Barclays' chairman resigns over rates scam

Published by Guardian on Tue, 03 Jul 2012

CHAIRMAN of Barclays Plc, Marcus Agius, resigned in a bid to shield Chief Executive Officer, Robert Diamond, after the bank was fined a record 290 million pounds ($455 million) for rigging interest rates.'I am truly sorry,' Agius, who had been chairman of Britain's second-largest bank by assets since 2007, said in a statement yesterday. 'Last week's events, evidencing as they do unacceptable standards of behaviour within the bank, have dealt a devastating blow to Barclays's reputation.'Barclays Director and former Chairman of Cadbury Schweppes Plc, John Sunderland, will oversee a search for a replacement, the London-based lender said. Michael Rake will become deputy chairman. Agius, 65, will remain in his position until his replacement is appointed.He is the most senior executive to step down so far following probes by global regulators into whether lenders colluded to manipulate Libor. Lawmakers are pushing for Diamond's resignation after UK and U.S. regulators found the lender 'systematically' attempted to rig the London and euro interbank offered rates for profit.Agius's departure 'will do little to appease the many who see Bob Diamond as having primary responsibility,' Gary Greenwood, a banking analyst at Shore Capital, said by e-mail. 'While Agius's departure will grab the headlines today, the bigger issue remains whether Diamond should also remain.'Barclays climbed as much as 5.6 per cent and was up three per cent at 167.75 pence as of 2:10 p.m. in London, valuing the lender at 20.5 billion pounds. The stock has fallen 14 per cent since the fine was announced on June 27, making it this year's worst performer in the six-member FTSE 350 banks index.Rake, 64, is chairman of BT Group Plc and has been a director of Barclays since 2008. The former accountant will oversee an inquiry into the bank's business practices, the lender said yesterday. The panel, to be run by an independent outsider and group of non-executive directors, will produce a public report of its findings.'I am committed to ensuring that the recommendations from this review are implemented in full,' Diamond said in an e- mailed statement yesterday. Agius said the review was part of a broader plan to establish a 'zero tolerance' policy for any actions that harm the firm's reputation.Diamond has been called to appear before British lawmakers on the Treasury Select Committee on July 4 and Agius the day after. The UK government is also preparing an inquiry into the future of Libor, including introducing criminal penalties for people who breach rules surrounding the rate.
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