Barclays' Diamond accused of misleading inquiry

Tue Jul 10, 2012 6:13pm EDT
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By Alessandra Prentice and Matt Scuffham

LONDON (Reuters) - British lawmakers on Tuesday accused Barclays former chief executive Bob Diamond of misleading a parliamentary inquiry into an interest rate-fixing scandal that has forced him to resign and give up bonuses worth up to 20 million pounds ($30 million).

Diamond hit back, calling the comments made by a parliamentary committee "unfair and unfounded".

The affair became a major political issue in Britain this month, after authorities fined Barclays more than $450 million for its part in manipulating a crucial interbank interest rate. Diamond resigned on July 3.

Marcus Agius, the chairman of Barclays when its traders fiddled the rate, appeared before a hostile parliamentary panel as part of its investigation into the row which as caused widespread public anger in Britain.

In 2-1/2 hours of gripping testimony, he acknowledged the central bank chief had played a key role in pushing Diamond out of his job, and described the personal drama behind the scandal.

"I'm not happy to be where I am, as you can imagine," Agius told the panel in a quiet, clipped voice. "It's very difficult as you go back to say what you would have done differently."

Agius was the first Barclays executive to quit when the scandal erupted but that was not enough to protect the hard-charging Diamond, who was forced out of the 300-year-old bank a day later.

Agius, a Cambridge and Harvard educated pillar of the banking establishment, has agreed to stay on as executive chairman to find a successor to Diamond, who testified in parliament last week.   Continued...

Barclays Plc President Bob Diamond makes his way to the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in New York June 21, 2010. REUTERS/Keith Bedford