* Walker cautions against heavy-handed rules in forex marker
* Walker says emphasis should be on raising staff standards
* Barclays unveils academy to improve compliance training
(Adds more detail, background)
By Huw Jones
LONDON, July 3 Barclays, trying to
restore its reputation after a series of scandals, has created a
Compliance Career Academy in partnership with Cambridge
University to improve staff training.
Barclays was the first bank to be fined for the alleged
rigging of benchmark interest rates, which resulted in a $450
million fine and cost Bob Diamond, the bank's CEO at the time,
his job. It was fined 26 million pounds ($44.24 million) in May
this year for manipulating gold prices, and last week New York's
attorney general filed a lawsuit alleging fraud in its "dark
pool" trading venue.
Barclays Chairman David Walker said the new training would
ensure that compliance staff could go a step further and mentor
traders and other colleagues to improve culture and behaviour.
"Compliance has not been seen as a serious enough specialist
activity," Walker said. "Our track record in culture has not
been good. It's important for us all to have a concept of
culture, conduct and compliance."
Compliance officers, along with internal auditors, have long
been seen as vulnerable to pressure from sales staff not to put
too much grit in the profit-making machine.
Walker acknowledged this was an issue in the past, saying
that "soft risks" like avoiding reputational damage were the
hardest of all to deal with.
"One way of seeing it is that we are guilty until we prove
ourselves to be innocent," Walker said.
Bankers have been vilified in the press and by shareholders
and politicians for getting huge bonuses despite the regulatory
scandals. More than a third of Barclays' shareholders failed to
back the bank's compensation plan at its annual shareholder
meeting this year, angered by a 10 percent rise in 2013 bonuses
despite a one-third drop in profits.
The new compliance programme will be taught in partnership
with the Cambridge Judge Business School.
Walker also said raising standards among traders was the
best solution for an overhaul of the foreign exchange market,
currently under investigation by global regulators.
The probe into the $5.3 trillion-a-day currency market is
looking into allegations of collusion and price rigging.
Regulators are due to report in the coming months on possible
reforms of how forex benchmarks are set.
"The problem is the way the market is vulnerable to taint
and malpractice," Walker told reporters. "It needs some
He said heavy regulation would spoil the market by throwing
out the baby with the bath water and simply spur traders to find
ways round the rules.
In the distant past, abuses such as frontrunning in currency
markets were widespread before it was made a criminal offence in
the 1980s, and regulators have not looked at the market until
the past 2-3 years, Walker said.
"It's timely for the market to be examined."
($1 = 0.5877 British Pounds)
(Editing by Steve Slater and Jane Merriman)