It has been quite a week for the overworked press and PR teams at Barclays, and the past seven days have offered a goldmine of stories for Barclays’ watchers.
The latest comedy cuts story featuring Barclays relates to its publicity shy executives and former-execs such as former CEO Bob Diamond applying – and mercifully failing – to keep their names out of a London Inter-Bank Offer Rate (LIBOR) rate-rigging court claim.
This scandal, including claims that Barclays’ traders tried to fix LIBOR to their advantage to maximise their bonuses, is toxic for Barclays’ tarnished reputation: it has already held its hands up and coughed up a fine of £290m.
So now, thanks to Mr Justice Flaux, we know that Diamond, former chief operating officer Jerry del Missier, Mark Dearlove, head of Barclays’ money-market desk and Stephen Morse, former head of compliance, are on a list of 104 bankers who wished to be given anonymity in the first UK trial with relevance to the rigging of the benchmark interest rate.
As Mr. Justice Flaux said: “The cat is out of the bag…….it wouldn’t take a rocket scientist to work out who they are.”
Trying and failing to gain anonymity in this case merely makes Diamond look even more foolish than was previously thought possible.
This, after all, is the banker who accepted Barclays’ ridiculous decision to award him 80 per cent of his maximum possible bonus in 2011, despite Barclays missing its financial targets and witnessing a 35 per cent fall in its share price in 2011.
This week started with Barclays’ press office trying to place a positive spin on Antony Jenkins, Diamond’s successor as CEO, plans to introduce a culture of ethical behaviour. He said that bankers had pursued short-term profits at the expense of the reputation of the bank: Gosh, really?
Jenkins will say more on 12 February when he reveals a strategic plan: bank speak for how to increase profits with fewer staff.
Already, several thousand Barclays’ employees face an uncertain future as the bank has kicked off a consultation process as part of a formal review of its 23,000-strong investment banking unit.
Barclays’ watchers expect between 2,000 and 3,000 staff to be axed as part of Jenkins’ strategic plan.
The week continued with news that Andrew Tinney, formerly COO of Barclays’ wealth management unit, had left the bank following allegations that he tried to keep secret a report on the how his business unit went about its business.
The report did not make for pleasant reading; surprise, surprise, it alleged that Barclays’ wealth unit pursued a “revenue at all costs strategy” and that there was a culture of fear and intimidation.
There are at least two positives from this weeks events at Barclays.
The first is that Royal Bank of Scotland – next in the LIBOR firing line as it awaits details of the level of the fine it is to pay – is unlikely to be daft enough to seek anonymity for its executives implicated in the LIBOR scandal.
The second plus for Barclays PR team is that the week is almost over.