Jim Armitage: 'Appalled and disgusted', so why no gesture of apology from Icap chief?

 

Outlook Michael Spencer is a hard man not to admire. From nowhere, he built his City broking house into a FTSE 100 company employing 5,000 staff worldwide. He is not afraid to speak out on controversial political issues and, unlike many of his peers at the top of major companies, is opinionated without the banal varnish of the MBA.

But for a man so well-versed in the subtle arts of Westminster warfare, he has played the Libor scandal surprisingly badly. In a conference call explaining his position, the Icap chief executive said "a few rotten apples" at the bank had behaved revoltingly badly. He was appalled, devastated, disappointed, disgusted. You name it, he felt it.

Yet, those words aside, he failed abjectly to take on any personal pain in order to show contrition as the head of the business he had created. In fact, when asked if he had considered resigning, or making a gesture of apology – such as instantly giving up some of his bonus – his response was terse: "I considered many things but am not going to share them with you."

Indeed, it would be, he said, "a very dangerous world" where the head of a big, complex organisation was held responsible for the wrongdoing of employees about whom he knew nothing.

The regulator's report found no senior managers were aware of what was going on at that wickedly corrupt, curry-and-kickback-loving trading desk. But the regime monitoring it was abjectly lacking. Forget about not picking up on the blizzard of incriminating emails uncovered by the regulator and the FBI – Icap never even audited the desk's accounts. That is just one of the management and compliance failures for which his executive team is, ultimately, responsible.

We should have seen an instant pledge from Mr Spencer not to take a bonus for the year - leaving it to the remuneration committee to decide some time next year is simply not enough. He should have ordered the rest of the board to follow suit. He should hold serious discussions with investors about whether they are happy for him to stay on as chief executive (they will say yes, but it will send the right signal). And he should pursue the small handful of employees who have been sacked over this shoddy affair for the bonuses they earned during the scam. Strong, high-profile, public actions.

He should care what the public thinks of the way he runs his business because he has made himself the public face of the City. On issues from bonus caps to taxation to membership of the euro and austerity, he is the go-to guy on the financial world's view on public policy. It has been a role he has played well but which carries with it the responsibility to be seen to do the right thing.

This was not a resigning matter for Mr Spencer. He probably is the best person to lead Icap out of this scandal. But he should have paid with more than just words.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
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

Guru Careers: Pricing Analyst

£30 - 35k: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Pricing Analyst to join a leading e-...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £45K YR1: SThree: At SThree, we like to be dif...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + competitive: SThree: Did you know? SThree is a mul...

Guru Careers: C# Project Team Lead

£55 - 65k (DOE): Guru Careers: A unique opportunity for a permanent C# Develop...

Day In a Page

Fifa corruption: The 161-page dossier that exposes the organisation's dark heart

The 161-page dossier that exposes Fifa's dark heart

How did a group of corrupt officials turn football’s governing body into what was, in essence, a criminal enterprise? Chris Green and David Connett reveal all
Mediterranean migrant crisis: 'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves,' says Tripoli PM

Exclusive interview with Tripoli PM Khalifa al-Ghweil

'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves'
Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles: How the author foretold the Californian water crisis

Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles

How the author foretold the Californian water crisis
Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison as authorities crackdown on dissent in the arts

Art attack

Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison
Marc Jacobs is putting Cher in the limelight as the face of his latest campaign

Cher is the new face of Marc Jacobs

Alexander Fury explains why designers are turning to august stars to front their lines
Parents of six-year-old who beat leukaemia plan to climb Ben Nevis for cancer charity

'I'm climbing Ben Nevis for my daughter'

Karen Attwood's young daughter Yasmin beat cancer. Now her family is about to take on a new challenge - scaling Ben Nevis to help other children
10 best wedding gift ideas

It's that time of year again... 10 best wedding gift ideas

Forget that fancy toaster, we've gone off-list to find memorable gifts that will last a lifetime
Paul Scholes column: With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards

Paul Scholes column

With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards
Heysel disaster 30th anniversary: Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget fateful day in Belgium

Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget Heysel

Thirty years ago, 39 fans waiting to watch a European Cup final died as a result of a fatal cocktail of circumstances. Ian Herbert looks at how a club dealt with this tragedy
Amir Khan vs Chris Algieri: Khan’s audition for Floyd Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation, says Frank Warren

Khan’s audition for Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation

The Bolton fighter could be damned if he dazzles and damned if he doesn’t against Algieri, the man last seen being decked six times by Pacquiao, says Frank Warren
Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

Fifa corruption arrests

All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

How Stephen Mangan got his range

Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor