Thursday, June 28, 2012

More on Barclays

It seems I am not alone.  Yesterday I wrote:

In a normal world, liability for committing fraud would be personal, and more than simply forgoing a bonus.

The bank committed fraud.  To be clear, human beings with two legs committed fraud, and other human beings with two legs supervised them.  This wasn’t just a poor management decision.  It was an act with the intent to deceive in order to achieve an economic gain.  According to the AP report, the bank "attempted to manipulate" and made “false reports.”  These manipulations and false reports lead to a gain for someone and a loss for someone else.

Today comes more fallout:

Barclays admitted Wednesday that the actions "fell well short of standards"

Emails and instant messages disclosed as a result of the investigation cast an unflattering light on the corporate culture on Barclays' trading floor. The back and forth over fixing rates included cringeworthy comments like "Done ... for you big boy," and "Dude, I owe you big time! Come over one day after work and I'm opening a bottle of Bollinger."

However, the more dangerous emails and messages are those demonstrating that the senders knew that what they were doing was dubious.

"This is the way you pull off deals like this chicken, don't talk about it too much, 2 months of preparation... the trick is you do not do this alone ... this is between you and me but really don't tell ANYBODY," one Barclays trader wrote to a trader at another bank.

And at least one person willing to state the true nature of the event:

Former City minister and ex-chairman of Marks & Spencer Lord Myners told the BBC Wednesday: "This is the most corrosive failure of moral behaviour I have seen in a major UK financial institution in my career.

"I think fines and public criticism will not stop these behaviors. These behaviors will not stop until the people perpetrating it or responsible for overseeing them face the prospect of criminal charges and the prospect of going to jail."

If events were as reported, this was fraud.  It should be handled as such.

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