A series of emails have been published by the US banking regulator that demonstrate the attitudes to serious offences that traders within Barclays held, with them swearing, laughing and joking about rigging energy markets and manipulating the price of electricity in order to generate a profit.
Barclays are denying that they were involved in any wrongdoing and have promised to appeal against the decision by the regulator to fine them. In a statement, the bank said it “strongly disagrees with the allegations […] We believe that our trading was legitimate and above board and intend to vigorously defend this matter.”
However, the emails appear to show a different story, with traders flaunting the fact they are engaging in rate manipulation and saying how much fun it is. MP on the Treasury Select Committee, John Mann, says that it’s indicative of the problems with modern finance: “This just shows how the rotten culture of casino banking that was built up under Bob Diamond went all the way through Barclays. Traders were clearly programmed to do anything to make a profit.”
Bob Diamond has been taking a lot of flak over this, with even Lord Oakeshott getting in on criticising him: “The American authorities’ allegations of Enron-style rigging of electricity prices shows what a toxic trail Bob Diamond left behind him.”
It’s thought that these emails could be even more damaging to Barclays than the fine itself, as the bank has suffered many blows to its reputation over the last few years. Whether it’s because of mis-selling Payment Protection Insurance on its loans or engaging in rate rigging, the bank’s image with the public is one of corruption and a total lack of ethics.
There have been some moves to try and clean up banks in recent months, but everything comes tumbling down whenever a new story like this is revealed, and, so far, they just keep coming.