Former Barclays officer blames regulators

July 16, 2012 at 2:11 PM   |   0 comments

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LONDON, July 16 (UPI) -- Barclays' former chief operating officer told a British government panel Libor manipulation began with a request from bank regulators.

"I expected that the Bank of England's views would be incorporated into our Libor submissions. The views would have resulted in lower submissions," former executive Jerry del Missier told a parliamentary hearing Monday.

The New York Times reported Missier, under questioning by panel members, said he would not have directed employees to lower their Libor submissions without the understanding regulators had made the request.

He said he interpreted an e-mail from Barclays' former chief executive officer Robert Diamond and a follow-up phone call to mean an official at the Bank of England, had requested the bank lower its Libor submissions.

The e-mail from Diamond was dated Oct. 29, 2008. It referred to a phone call between Diamond and Bank of England deputy Paul Tucker, who said in previous testimony he had called Diamond to assess the health of the bank during the financial crisis.

Tucker said part of that conversation involved how a high Libor submission might make the bank appear to be at risk.

Libor stands for London interbank offered rate. It is the average rate of interest banks pay when they borrow from other banks.

The Libor is an important benchmark that determines the rate of various businesses and personal loans. A high submission by a particular bank could be interpreted to mean that bank has been assessed by other banks to be at risk.

Diamond, meanwhile, has said his e-mail was misinterpreted.

Monday's testimony also provoked repeated questions from lawmakers who wanted del Missier to explain why the bank had been submitting low Libor numbers from as far back as 2005.

The bank was "up to its armpits in dishonest activity in the run up to that phone call," Member of Parliament Pat McFadden said.

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