June 28 (Bloomberg) -- Barclays Plc Chief Executive Officer Robert Diamond was urged by U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron to show accountability after the bank was fined $451 million for attempting to manipulate the inter-bank lending rate, known as Libor.
“I’m determined we learn all the lessons from what has happened at Barclays,” Cameron told reporters as he arrived in Brussels for a European Union summit. “People have to take responsibility for the actions and show how they’re going to be accountable for those actions. It’s very important that goes all the way to the top of the organization.”
Barclays, the U.K.’s second-largest bank by assets, said yesterday that Diamond and three other executives will forgo their bonuses this year. Investigators concluded that traders at Barclays lied to make the bank appear secure during the financial turmoil of 2008 and to make a profit, sometimes colluding with workers in at least four other banks.
Cameron’s comments followed opposition leader Ed Miliband’s demand for a criminal investigation into the matter. The call by the Labour Party chief was echoed by the London Mayor Boris Johnson, a Conservative ally of the prime minister.
“People struggling to make ends meet will be outraged and disgusted by the way bankers have been walking off with millions of pounds for rigging the market,” Miliband told reporters in Brighton, southern England. “First, we need criminal prosecutions, we need the full force of the law brought against those who have done wrong, and if they are found guilty and if their offences warrant it, they should go to jail.”
Johnson, a defender of the interests of the City, the capital’s financial district, told the BBC today, “It strikes me that is almost certainly criminal and there needs to be a proper investigation.”
Cameron’s comments in Brussels marked an escalation after he said earlier today in England that the “whole management team has got some questions to answer.”
Diamond, who earned as much as 6.3 million pounds ($9.8 billion) in salary, bonuses and stock awards for 2011 as well as a 5.75 million-pound ($8.9 million) contribution toward his personal tax bill, used a BBC speech last year to call for banks to be “better citizens.”
Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne said Britain’s financial regulator is looking at whether it can bring criminal charges over the attempt by banks to manipulate the inter-bank lending rate, as he promised new laws to prevent abuse.
Osborne said he couldn’t comment on whether there are plans to prosecute executives at Barclays or other banks. The Financial Services Authority will “use every power available to them” and if these aren’t enough, Osborne said he will change the law to provide them.