Barclays has been forced to reveal the identities of more than 100 employees who had been attempting to keep their names out of the public domain ahead of a case involving the alleged manipulation of the Libor rate.
Senior executives including finance director Chris Lucas and investment banking boss Rich Ricci, as well as former chief executives John Varley and Bob Diamond, have been named by news agencies as being among those who had been attempting to keep their identities secret in an interest rate swap mis-selling case brought against the bank by Guardian Care Homes and others.
The high court judge, Mr Justice Flaux, ruled on Thursday that attempts by Barclays employees to keep their anonymity should not be permitted.
“The public has legitimate interest in learning who in the banking community is alleged to have been implicated in the manipulation of Libor,” the judge said, but stressed that some of the individuals involved were “not involved in the manipulation and are entirely innocent”.
The names released are those of individuals whose emails were scrutinised during regulatory investigations that led to a £290m fine for rigging Libor – the first financial penalty to be announced, last June, that led to the departure of Diamond days later.
A list of 25 current and former employees to whom reference was made in documents published by regulators in June is also being released. The individuals were not identified at the time, and the judge stressed that the release of their names did not mean that all the individuals were implicated. Barclays has, in the past, given the names of 207 individuals whose emails were reviewed by regulators.
The Swiss bank UBS was fined £940m in December over the Libor affair, while the bailed-out Royal Bank of Scotland remains in settlement talks with regulators and could be fined as much as £500m shortly.
Investigations are continuing into other financial firms, including the world’s largest interdealer money broker Icap, run by former conservative party treasurer Michael Spencer.
In a statement , Icap said: “As previously disclosed, Icap has been asked to provide information to various agencies investigating the setting of Libor and is co-operating with those inquiries. As part of the FSA’s inquiries, one of Icap’s interdealer broker subsidiaries has been notified that it is the subject of an FSA investigation. The investigation is confidential, accordingly no further comment will be made at this stage.”
Spencer has been playing down Icap’s involvement in Libor, over which one member of staff has been suspended and three placed on administrative leave.
In his written judgment in the Barclays case, Flaux made the point that Barclays “is only one part of a much bigger picture concerning the manipulation of Libor by a substantial number of banks.
“In my judgment,” he continued, “fair and accurate media reporting of all aspects of Libor manipulation, including the involvement of employees and ex-employees of Barclays and their identity, is an important aspect of the public obtaining that true picture.”
Barclays is disputing the case, Graiseley Properties v Barclays Bank, over two interest rate swaps of £70m that were linked to Libor, which is used to price financial products worth around £300tn. The case will be heard later this year.
Barclays said: “This started as an alleged mis-selling case which the bank considers has no merit. The addition of a claim based on what happened with Libor does not change the bank’s view. The fact that someone’s documents were reviewed by the bank during its review of millions of documents does not mean that such person was involved in any wrongdoing.”
Judge denies Barclays staff anonymity in Libor case – The Guardian
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