Bankers attack isolated U.S., UK moves on lenders

Wed Jan 27, 2010 9:00am EST
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By Lisa Jucca and Tamora Vidaillet

DAVOS, Switzerland (Reuters) - Top bankers took a swipe on Wednesday at U.S. and British moves to tighten regulation of their activities and pay, saying one set of rules were needed to govern the global banking industry.

The Group of 20 leading nations have attempted to address the financial crisis through a common global approach, but policymakers came under fire from the industry's leaders for potentially storing up problems for the future.

"We collectively underestimate the cost of complexity," Peter Sands, Chief Executive of Asia-focused bank Standard Chartered, told the World Economic Forum.

"If we all do slightly different variants of everything ... in every country in the world, it will create enormous amounts of complexity and the visibility of bank management and regulators ... will be impeded."

Regulators welcomed plans by U.S. President Barack Obama to curb banks' proprietary trading risks, with Bundesbank President Axel Weber lending cautious support.

"We need to limit activity. We need to have more capital held against riskier activities," he said, while indicating the U.S. approach would not get wholesale backing in Europe.

But Barclays President Bob Diamond said moves by British and U.S. authorities -- including a UK tax on bank bonuses and a U.S. clampdown on big banks' activities -- could threaten supranational solutions.

He also noted domestic political imperatives coming to the fore. Both the UK and U.S. governments face the ballot box this year.   Continued...

<p>Robert E. Diamond Jr, Barclays President attends a session at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos January 27, 2010. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann</p>