LONDON (Reuters) - Bob Diamond faced a grilling by British lawmakers on Wednesday, a day after quitting as Barclays’ chief executive over an interest rate rigging scandal.
Following are comments from Diamond from the hearing in parliament’s Treasury Select Committee:
“I don’t want to leave any impression about how sorry I am, how angry we are, how disappointed we are. What I am saying in the context of Barclays, which is an amazing institution that I love, there are people doing things for their communities, for their customers and clients, 140,000 of them, and we are all impacted by these 14 traders, and it’s not OK, no one is saying this was OK, it was wrong.”
“There will be, I understand, follow-up criminal investigations on certain individuals. It’s not up to us but we’re certainly not going to stand in the way of it.”
“I think people who do things that they’re not supposed to do should be dealt with harshly. I think they should go through due process. I think we have been through a process ourselves of dealing harshly with people.
“David, when I got the results of this investigation and it was because of the interviews, as I’ve said, I didn’t see a lot of the detail. I was aware there was an investigation and I was broadly aware that things were coming out. When I read the emails from those traitors, I got physically ill. It’s reprehensible behavior and if you’re asking me should those actions be dealt with, absolutely.”
“That behavior was reprehensible, it was wrong. I am sorry, I am disappointed and I am also angry. There is absolutely no excuse for the behavior that was exhibit in those activities and the types of emails that were written.
And I stand for a lot of people at Barclays that are really, really angry about this.”
“I was not aware that Jerry (del Missier) had a miscommunication or a misunderstanding, Jerry didn’t say that to me.”
“My first reaction (to the conversation with Paul Tucker) was: John, you have to get to Whitehall, you have to make sure they knew we are funding fine.
“This was a very pressurized situation. This was probably a momentous week in the history of Barclays and the history of the financial markets.
“(Asked if he saw this as ministers or officials asking him to fiddle your submission) “I didn’t see that no.”
“This week the focus has been on Barclays in many ways because they were first. And I worry that the world looks at Barclays and a small group of traders who had reprehensible behavior and that that is being put on Barclays in a way that is not representative of the firm that I love so much.
“In Barclays it has been three years with three of the most important regulatory agencies in the world, looking at millions of files. All three regulatory agencies applauding Barclays for their cooperation, for their analysis, for their proactivity. The attitude of Barclays three years ago when this was recognized was - let’s get to the bottom of it …
“I think that attitude is recognized by the three regulatory agencies and what they wrote, but it does not coming out in the court of public opinion in the last week.”
“I think that was the core of the reason that I dictated that note and communicated with John (Varley) right away. As you saw the file note was to John, and the concern we had, if I can put it in context, this was October 29 2008, after... we have had the government intervention, Royal Bank of Scotland, the government intervention of Lloyds.
“For the first, two days later, the fundraising from the Middle East was completed so within the context of this market, there was a worry that if people in Whitehall, which in my mind are officials in the government.”
“There was a perception in Whitehall that our rates were high, and our worry was that if members of the government thought our rates were high, and if they took that to mean we couldn’t fund, and couldn’t fund adequately....”
“It was clear a number of a firms that were posting, had emergency loans, had been nationalized, or were having trouble funding. I said to Paul (Tucker) we were funding at those levels. But we would question whether other institutions could get funds at the levels they were posting.”
(Questions: Bearing in mind how important that rate was to Barclays, what does it say that you were not aware of the discussions? We’re talking about the discussion at the time...why when this got serious were you unaware?)
“It was not brought to that level. And part of that is that there were ongoing meetings at the level below that with the regulators.”
“I think there was the feeling that it had been resolved.”
“I love Barclays. History will judge Barclays as an incredible institution because of its people. We need to get through this period and the best way to do that was to step down.
“Let me explain why I changed my mind. It’s a good question. It wasn’t over the weekend because we worked over the weekend on a communication to our colleagues internally.
“We did that knowing that we had the support of the board, support of our shareholders who we had been working with, from the announcement at the end of the week, of our colleagues, of our clients, of our customers and our regulators.
“It was clear to me on Monday that that support wasn’t as strong, and that I needed to take a step and ... the support from the regulators wasn’t as strong as it had been and I need to take this step.”
“The best way I think I can help ... prevent the damage to the reputation that has happened over the last week, the best way for me to do that was to step down, but continue to come here and answer the questions of the committee.”
“I don’t know … If Marcus (Agius) had conversations with regulators, that is a conversation for him to have with you, I did not discuss that with him.”
“There was a discussion that, as it got down into the organization, they felt that there was some cultural issues, that people sometimes pushed back, that some of the push back wasn’t always followed up at the top. So there was an overall discussion on culture.”
“It was part of an annual review, so it’s always going to have some things that they’re going to be critical of and we can do better.”
“I think my management style, if that’s what you’re asking, at the time, was to have an executive committee that had all the representatives of the things that reported up into me.
I certainly preferred a consensus style of management, that we could agree on the right decision as opposed to the chief executive making all the decisions.”
“That’s the first I’ve ever heard that there was any question about my appointment as chief executive. ... I got very strong support for my appointment as chief executive.”
Reporting by UK bureau