Regulators review new Barclays evidence
James Moore is the Independent's Associate Business Editor and writes the Outlook City comment column from Tuesday to Friday. He also has a keen interest in disability issues and when not attempting to further injure himself playing wheelchair basketball.
Friday 18 October 2013
City watchdogs are reviewing a fresh cache of evidence related to Barclays' involvement in the Libor interest rate scandal, it emerged last night.
The existence of the documents was revealed in court filings by Guardian Care Homes, which is suing Barclays, claiming the bank mis-sold it interest rate swap contracts that lost it millions. Some of the documents post-date the £290m settlement with watchdogs on both sides of the Atlantic over attempts by Barclays traders to manipulate dollar Libor interest rates.
The resulting scandal ultimately cost chief executive Bob Diamond his job. The evidence submitted, however, covers sterling Libor, which Guardian claims Barclays traders manipulated with the aim of generating profit for an investment fund.
Guardian wants to use this as part of its bid to invalidate Swap contracts with Barclays. Barclays has passed a number of documents over to regulators including Britain's Financial Conduct Authority in relation to Libor rates since the settlement. Sources said anything that might be of interest to them would be sent over.
A formal investigation would only follow if the regulator felt there was something sufficiently serious to warrant disciplinary action. It would also have to be novel and outside of the settlement. The bank argues that regardless of the Libor issue, Guardian was informed by experienced advisers.
Nonetheless, the case has important ramifications for the banking industry. If Guardian wins, other firms outside the scope of a mis-selling review for small businesses could launch actions of their own.
The Guardian chief executive Gary Hartland said: "My swaps have cost me £12m so the suggestion that these allegations are irrelevant is fanciful." He accused the bank of putting "its head in its hands" over the issue.
A Barclays spokesman said: "This started as an alleged mis-selling case which Barclays considers has no merit. The addition of a claim based on what happened with Libor does not change the Bank's view."
Barclays says it is owed £70m, and will take the case to trial if necessary.
* Europe's most powerful financial regulator has criticised George Osborne for attempting to water down one of the banking sector's most controversial reforms. Michel Barnier, once dubbed "the scourge of the City", warned that the UK is becoming "isolated" from the rest of Europe by objecting to a cap on bankers' bonuses. Mr Barnier, the European Union's Commissioner for Financial Services, said he regretted the Chancellor's decision to contest the policy in the European Court.
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