June 12, 2013 / 1:04 PM / 5 years ago

British banks plan task force to respond to standards probe

LONDON (Reuters) - Executives at Britain’s top banks may form a task force to respond to a report due this week from an influential committee of lawmakers examining standards within the industry, banking sources said on Wednesday.

A combination of four photographs shows (top L-R) a worker silhouetted against an illuminated sign in a branch of HSBC; Two people walking out of the headquarters of the Royal Bank of Scotland; (bottom L-R) a Lloyds bank branch near St Paul's Cathedral and a customer using a Barclays ATM, in central London July 23, 2010. REUTERS/Andrew Winning

The proposal would see the chief executives from Britain’s biggest six banks - Barclays (BARC.L), HSBC (HSBA.L), Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS.L), Lloyds Banking Group (LLOY.L), Standard Chartered (STAN.L) and Santander UK (SAN.MC) - produce a coordinated response to the report, which is expected to be published on Friday, the sources said.

The Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards (PCBS) was set up by the government last July with a remit to examine ethics within the industry after Barclays (BARC.L) was fined for attempting to manipulate global interest rate benchmarks.

Bank executives have discussed the task force plan with the industry’s lobby group, the British Bankers Association (BBA), but will not make a final decision on whether to proceed until after the commission’s report is published, the sources said.

The task force would be chaired by Nigel Wicks, the BBA chairman.

The 600-page PCBS report is expected to make sweeping recommendations, including changes to bankers’ bonuses, a new professional register for bankers and the inclusion of criminal sanctions in tougher penalties against executives at failed banks.

It is also likely to reiterate the commission’s previous call for legislation enabling regulators to break up banks that don’t stick to rules ring-fencing their routine retail operations form riskier investment banking activities.

Among the most eagerly awaited contents of the report will be recommendations on the future of state-backed RBS and Lloyds, plus suggestions on how to stimulate competition within the industry.

Reporting by Matt Scuffham and Steve Slater; Editing by David Goodman

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