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Barclays pays £190m fine for violating US sanctions

Payments facilitated to US-sanctioned countries such as Cuba and Iran leave Barclays with large fine

Barclays Bank will pay a sum of $298m (£190m) to US authorities to settle investigations concerning the payments it facilitated to countries which were under US economic and trade sanctions.

US prosecutors revealed on Monday that Barclays had facilitated payments for Cuba, Iran, Libya, Sudan and Burma among others, between 1995 and 2006, thereby violating the International Emergency Economic Powers and the Trading with the Enemy Acts.

Court documents note authorities stating that Barclays had "knowingly and willfully facilitated US dollar transactions" for a number of parties and countries that were under sanction by the US Treasury.

Barclays has fully accepted the charges, but is yet to offer a comment.

The bank claimed to have set aside £194m for settlements in the US investigations, when it announced its first-half results, earlier this month.

Barclays is the latest European bank to come under fire for facilitating transactions for countries under US sanctions. It follows the UK's Lloyds Banking Group and Swiss banker Credit Suisse, who paid $350m and $536 respectively in settlements last year.

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Is anyone prepared to solve the NHS funding crisis?

As long as the political taboo on raising taxes endures, the service will be in financial peril. 

It has long been clear that the NHS is in financial ill-health. But today's figures, conveniently delayed until after the Conservative conference, are still stunningly bad. The service ran a deficit of £930m between April and June (greater than the £820m recorded for the whole of the 2014/15 financial year) and is on course for a shortfall of at least £2bn this year - its worst position for a generation. 

Though often described as having been shielded from austerity, owing to its ring-fenced budget, the NHS is enduring the toughest spending settlement in its history. Since 1950, health spending has grown at an average annual rate of 4 per cent, but over the last parliament it rose by just 0.5 per cent. An ageing population, rising treatment costs and the social care crisis all mean that the NHS has to run merely to stand still. The Tories have pledged to provide £10bn more for the service but this still leaves £20bn of efficiency savings required. 

Speculation is now turning to whether George Osborne will provide an emergency injection of funds in the Autumn Statement on 25 November. But the long-term question is whether anyone is prepared to offer a sustainable solution to the crisis. Health experts argue that only a rise in general taxation (income tax, VAT, national insurance), patient charges or a hypothecated "health tax" will secure the future of a universal, high-quality service. But the political taboo against increasing taxes on all but the richest means no politician has ventured into this territory. Shadow health secretary Heidi Alexander has today called for the government to "find money urgently to get through the coming winter months". But the bigger question is whether, under Jeremy Corbyn, Labour is prepared to go beyond sticking-plaster solutions. 

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.