James Moore: City suits laugh at the law while hoodies get their collars felt

Outlook: The regulators simply aren't feared. They are looked upon as 'stupid'

Justice was severe and even relatively swift for those who set light to the streets of London and other British cities last summer. In contrast, those who burned the British economy and the financial markets, by reckless gambling or by trying to rig the decks (by fixing interest rates) while trading for Barclays, are likely to escape a similar fate if things go to form.

The law isn't quite the same for those who wear a suit as it is for those who wear hoodys, which sends out a terrible message.

Oh the Serious Fraud Office has been called in. But its record in securing convictions is mixed even if its lawyers and accountants feel that there are cases that can be effectively pursued against the Barclays traders.

Which leaves the Financial Services Authority, and its successor, the Financial Conduct Authority. After cases have spent a lengthy time in the long grass, they might get round to handing out a few bans, maybe fines too, on account of the traders having breached its principles. But there's no certainty.

Just about the only person to face any sanction for the banks' near collapse during the financial crisis was poor old Johnny Cameron at Royal Bank of Scotland.

And Mr Cameron, who has proved to be a shade more reflective than his peers in conversations I have had with him, is a rarity: he agreed to the sanction when most would have fought it. As I would expect those traders are preparing to do.

Ed Miliband, the Labour leader, has been calling for a public inquiry into the banking industry without supplying a convincing explanation as to what it would achieve.

A more appropriate line of attack would be to demand a thorough review of the legal framework around this sort of white collar... well it's by no means sure we can actually call it crime. Wrong doing, then.

The Government has promised an independent review to see if its upcoming financial regulation bill needs amending. Does anyone really believe that a few amendments will do anything to prevent a repeat of this sorry affair?.

Part of the problem with British banking is that the regulators simply aren't feared. They are looked upon as "stupid" by battalions of City folk who spend their time dreaming up ways to get around them in the knowledge that, if they do get caught with their pants down, the sanctions they face will be limited and they'll get paid off.

They snigger when they look at their American colleagues, who, when they commit similar deeds, are hauled off to Riker's Island jail in shackles.

Ah yes, the Americans. They're involved in this little affair too, and they've proved very willing to extend their legal system overseas when the mood takes them, making use of a certain lop-sided extradition treaty. Remember the so called NatWest three? And the furore that accompanied America's use of the treaty to reel them in?

All of a sudden we may find ourselves thankful for those arrangements. US capitalism might be red in tooth and claw, but so is the system that polices it – as Barclays' traders may learn to their cost.

Sadly, ours remains, well, just a light touch.

Barclays' new chairman must have weapons

There was much talk yesterday about what an honourable chap Marcus Agius is, having been (so far) the only person to resign as a result of the Barclays scandal.

The trouble is, Mr Agius' move now makes it all but impossible to get rid of Bob Diamond, Barclays' under fire chief executive who was in charge of the business where the dodgy deals were done.

So Mr Agius has granted Mr Diamond a lengthy stay of execution at least until his successor is found and perhaps beyond.

Finding that successor won't be easy. Not only will a senior business figure have to prove they tick the right boxes for the regulators, they will also have to accept they are putting their reputations at risk.

Not to mention the scale of the challenge they face: overseeing the clean up of Barclays' Augean stables while keeping a handle on Mr Diamond, his henchmen, Rich Ricci and Jerry del Missier, and their pals.

So not only does the new chairman need to be a heavy hitter, he needs to have weapons.

These might include carte blanche to appoint some henchmen to counter the over-powerful executive triumvirate. They might also require the bank to break (at least temporarily) with an important piece of corporate governance best practice.

With Barclays in a state of turmoil, and in desperate need of leadership (absent from its executives), discipline and moral compass, the new man should arguably be an executive chairman – at least until the bank is back on an even keel and the necessary reforms have been identified and made to its culture and processes.

This shouldn't become a precedent. There are very good reasons for keeping the roles of chairman and chief executive separate and ensuring the latter is in a non-executive role. The chief executive runs the business, the chairman the board (which is exactly why Mr Diamond should have gone rather than Mr Agius). The latter oversees and acts as a counterweight to the former.

Having an executive chairman can confuse things, arguably putting too much power in his hands and fuzzing the lines on who does what.

So it should be a temporary move. But such is the crisis facing Barclays it might also be a necessary one.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Voices
There will be a chance to bid for a rare example of the SAS Diary, collated by a former member of the regiment in the aftermath of World War II but only published – in a limited run of just 5,000 – in 2011
charity appealTime is running out to secure your favourite lot as our auction closes at 2pm tomorrow
Arts and Entertainment
Mark Wright has won The Apprentice 2014
tvThe Apprentice 2014 final
Arts and Entertainment
X Factor winner Ben Haenow has scored his first Christmas number one
music
News
i100
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
news
News
Elton John and David Furnish exchange marriage vows
peopleSinger posts pictures of nuptials throughout the day
Arts and Entertainment
James May, Jeremy Clarkson and Richard Hammond in the Top Gear Patagonia Special
tv
News
File: James Woods attends the 52nd New York Film Festival at Walter Reade Theater on September 27, 2014
peopleActor was tweeting in wake of NYPD police shooting
News
Claudia Winkleman and co-host Tess Daly at the Strictly Come Dancing final
people
Extras
indybest
News
peopleLiam Williams posted photo of himself dressed as Wilfried Bony
Sport
Martin Skrtel heads in the dramatic equaliser
SPORTLiverpool vs Arsenal match report: Bandaged Martin Skrtel heads home in the 97th-minute
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Carlton Senior Appointments: Private Banking Manager - Intl Bank - Los Angeles

$200 - $350 per annum: Carlton Senior Appointments: Managing Producer – Office...

Carlton Senior Appointments: San Fran - Investment Advisor – Ind Advisory Firm

$125 - $225 per annum: Carlton Senior Appointments: San Fran - Investment Advi...

Sheridan Maine: Commercial Finance Manager

Up to £70,000 per annum + benefits: Sheridan Maine: Are you a qualified accoun...

Sheridan Maine: Regulatory Reporting Accountant

Up to £65,000 per annum + benefits: Sheridan Maine: Are you a qualified accoun...

Day In a Page

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'
Marian Keyes: The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment

Marian Keyes

The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef creates an Italian-inspired fish feast for Christmas Eve

Bill Granger's Christmas Eve fish feast

Bill's Italian friends introduced him to the Roman Catholic custom of a lavish fish supper on Christmas Eve. Here, he gives the tradition his own spin…
Liverpool vs Arsenal: Brendan Rodgers is fighting for his reputation

Rodgers fights for his reputation

Liverpool manager tries to stay on his feet despite waves of criticism
Amir Khan: 'The Taliban can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'

Amir Khan attacks the Taliban

'They can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'
Michael Calvin: Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick