Simon English: Five key questions for Barclays' Diamond

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Outlook The banker is huddled in the corner of Jamies Wine Bar, just off Ludgate Hill, and looking shifty.

He's slurping lime soda, about which he is being unduly defensive. "Shut it," he says. "It's January."

I never said a word. Taking the first month of the year off the sauce is perfectly reasonable, and in this case it seems to have focused the mind.

"You know how you're always moaning that I never give Bob Diamond at Barclays a proper hard time?"

Yes. "Well you're right. And I'm still not going to. But I've written down the five questions I would ask him, if I had a spine." He hands me a page of scribble.

1. Over the last decade, the Barclays share price has fallen by 68 per cent, from 570p to 196p. Over the same time period, how much money (in cash and shares) have you taken out of Barclays?

2. Pay per employee is around £250,000 at Barclays Capital. But even the average compensation within BarCap will hide a great disparity, with management in Barclays Capital receiving far higher rewards than £250,000. Even so, this is at least three times higher than at the retail bank. If talent and rewards go hand in hand, why are you so against transparent disclosure of what top earners do for these very high rewards at Barclays Capital?

3. At the start of 2011, Bob, you said: "It's not OK for taxpayers to bail out banks." When do you think it is right for central banks to intervene and when is it not ok?

4. According to the European Banking Authority, Barclays has stockpiled £3.3bn of deferred tax assets from losses, which seems a large number considering that Barclays never reported a loss over the financial crisis. No doubt this is legal, but how does Barclays square paying minimal tax and "good citizenship"?

5. It is not entirely clear what Barclays management is lobbying for in private, and whether this is in the best interests of your owners, the shareholders. To help me understand your efforts in lobbying, both in the UK, Europe and US, perhaps you could make available recordings of all management meetings with politicians and lobbyists?

Over to you Bob...