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Barclays fined $453m

US energy regulator Civil penalties imposed for violation of the Federal Power Act and FERC’s Anti-Manipulation Rule.

Barclays and its traders Daniel Brin, Scott Connelly, Karen Levine, and Ryan Smith have been imposed a  fine of $453m (£300m) by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) for manipulating electric energy prices in California and other western markets of the country between November 2006 and December 2008.

As a remedy for violations of the Federal Power Act and FERC’s Anti-Manipulation Rule, Connelly will pay a fine of $15m, while Brin, Levine and Smith will each pay a fine of $1m as their actions were found to be a coordinated and intentional effort of manipulation.

The British bank should pay the penalties to the US Treasury within a month, as per the regulator’s order.

Meanwhile, the British bank will distribute $34.9m of unfair profits including interest to the low-income home energy assistance programs of Arizona, California, Oregon, and Washington.

The regulator, in a statement, said that "Barclays and its four traders built and then flattened substantial monthly physical index positions at four of the then-most liquid trading points in the western United States for the fraudulent purpose of manipulating the index price to benefit Barclays’ financial swap positions."

As per the Federal Power Act, penalties for manipulation of acts could be up to $1m per day per violation.

The regulator may seek affirmation of the penalties from a federal district court in the event Barclays and the traders do not pay fines.

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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.