- Last Updated: 12:14 PM, July 5, 2012
- Posted: 11:45 PM, July 4, 2012
It was a Fourth of July grilling for Bob Diamond.
The former Barclays boss tried to deflect some of the heat as UK lawmakers — fired up over the bank’s unfolding rate-fixing scandal — raked him over the coals, challenging his leadership and the integrity of England’s second-biggest bank.
The 60-year-old Wall Street vet told a British parliamentary committee that e-mails from some of his traders discussing how to rig a key benchmark rate — something he said he learned only last month — “made him physically ill.”
Diamond also pointed the finger at rivals, suggesting they also artificially lowered their borrowing rates
Diamond called the traders’ actions “reprehensible” while steadfastly defending the firm he helped build into a major Wall Street player. He insisted the scandal was limited to a few bad apples — 14 traders by his count — and doesn’t reflect the culture of the 276-year-old institution.
“This [scandal] doesn’t represent the Barclays that I know and I love,” he said.
Diamond, who is known as a Wall Street wheeler-dealer, drew a severe tongue lashing when he said he wasn’t aware of the extent of the scandal until this month because it had not filtered up the chain of command.
That didn’t wash. “The real worry... was... that the staff didn’t have the confidence or the interest or the intelligence to come and say to the boss that some people were getting up to actions that could destroy the bank,” barked George Mudie, a member of the Treasury Select Committee.
Diamond said he resigned this week, along with the COO and chairman, because the board’s support “wasn’t as strong” as it had been.
Barclays agreed to pay a $450 million fine to US and UK regulators to settle charges it falsely reported lower borrowing rates as far back as 2005. The bank is still under investigation.