POLITICS
04/07/2012 13:46 BST | Updated 03/09/2012 06:12 BST

Bob Diamond's Evidence On Barclays Libor Fixing: What Do We Now Know?

It was quite a frustrating afternoon for MPs on the Treasury Committee, who found Bob Diamond difficult to pin down on some fairly critical question areas. But we do know quite a few new things about what happened at Barclays and why. We also have many unanswered questions, still.

  • Barclays was worried the government was looking to nationalise the bank in late 2008, as it had done with RBS and Northern Rock. Barclays was desperate to convince the government it was capable of raising its own funds, as it did successfully by getting finance from the Middle East.
  • Compliance procedures at Barclays clearly left a lot to be desired. Diamond said that those traders who were setting Libor were "very senior" members of staff, not young red-blooded bucks. So why, if it was the job of compliance to check the rules were being followed, was nothing done? It evokes an image of the Barclays compliance team sitting about not really doing much, their phones covered with cobwebs, waiting for someone to blow the whistle.
  • Nobody blew the whistle on the trading floor on the Libor-rigging. Quite why this would be the case is unclear, but at best it suggests something was very wrong with the culture at Barclays Capital, until at least 2009.
  • It remains very unclear exactly who in government was having discussions with the Bank of England on Libor. At one point Diamond said it was "officials", later he said it was probably ministers. The subsequent Parliamentary probe into all of this will need to get to the bottom of who was talking to whom.
  • Bob Diamond says he was only aware of the full extent of the Libor rigging about a fortnight ago, when the FSA's findings were sent to him ahead of being made public. One can draw whatever conclusions one likes from this, obviously some MPs struggled with it and said at best Diamond had been incompetent.
  • Despite this Diamond acknowledged that some of those who may have been involved with Libor-rigging have been "kept on" to help get to the bottom of the probe. It was not clear - and MPs did a lousy job of trying to find out - how many people were involved and when their status as wrongdoers was known internally.
  • Diamond also failed to ask a key question - why, when Barclays staff knew other banks were trying to fix Libor, did they not run an internal audit to see whether their staff were up to the same thing?
  • Bob Diamond seems determined to take some or all of his severance package. This could be anywhere up to £17m. MPs failed to pin Diamond down on this.
  • Whoever sits on the Parliamentary inquiry - and this can only be made up of MPs and peers - needs to be highly experienced in how investment banks operate. The best questions this afternoon came from Andrea Leadsom, who has that background. She was the only person on the committee to know how important the role of the desk supervisors on a bank trading floor is. Her questions revealed that these supervisors also did nothing about the Libor-rigging.
  • MPs did not cover themselves in glory today. The government will almost certainly see off Labour's attempts to get a full judge-led inquiry on Thursday into banking, but the questioning from the Parliamentary probe will need to be more forensic, calm and technical than what was offered by many MPs in this hearing.