The charges against Barclays: manipulating energy prices, interest rates, mis-selling interest rate swaps, Libor/interest rate swap mis-selling, mis-selling PPI …
Manipulating energy prices
A potential fine from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for attempting to manipulate the price of electricity in California between 2006 and 2008. Barclays and four former employees – Daniel Brin, Scott Connelly, Karen Levine and Ryan Smith – were said to be buying or selling enough electricity to make the bank’s positions in the swaps markets more profitable through moving the price up and down on the
IntercontinentalExchange (ICE). Barclays, which is fighting the accusations, is not the only player accused of manipulating Californian electricity prices, but not for the same reasons. Constellation Energy paid a $245m (£152m) record fine in January, Deutsche Bank faces a $1.5m fine while JP Morgan faces suspension for misleading regulators during an investigation.
Manipulating interest rates
Barclays was the major first bank to be fined for manipulating the Libor benchmark rate – initially to boost profits and later to protect its financial position – but it is unlikely to the be last. The Financial Services Authority has admitted it is looking at seven other financial firms and as many as 16 banks and other firms are co-operating with regulators around the world. The bank has been named in class action lawsuits in the US while the Serious Fraud Office is investigating Libor.
Mis-selling interest rate swaps
Barclays has set aside £450m to cover the cost of the latest mis-selling scandal. Small businesses – including fish and chip shops – were sold sophisticated interest rate swaps as a way to protect them against rises in interest rates, often as a condition attached to taking out the loan. The interest rate rises did not take place. Barclays is part of an industry-wide agreement to compensate customers.
Libor/interest rate swap mis-selling
A high court judge this week concluded that Bob Diamond, the chief executive who quit over Libor, and other Barclays bankers should appear in court to explain what they knew about the manipulation of the key rate in a case brought by Guardian Care Homes about mis-selling of interest rate swaps.
Mis-selling payment protection insurance
Barclays has just set aside another £700m to cover the cost of PPI claims – taking its total bill to £2bn. Lloyds, which could make another provision when it reports on Thursday, has taken provisions of £4.3bn. Royal Bank of Scotland’s bill stands at £1.3bn, HSBC’s at £1.1bn and Santander at £500m. Customers were sold PPI alongside loans to cover repayments in the event of sickness or unemployment but the insurance was not needed and did not pay out.
Investigation into its 2008 fund raisings
Finance director Chris Lucas and three other former and current Barclays staff are under investigation by the Financial Services Authority in connection with the way information was disclosed during two crucial fund raisings in 2008 from Middle Eastern investors that avoided the need for a taxpayer bailout. Barclays was determined not to be constrained by any form of government control and insists it did nothing wrong
Potential breach of US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act
The Department of Justice and US Securities and Exchange Commission are investigating whether the Middle East fund raisings were “compliant” with the US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. Individuals are not involved. The bank is “fully co-operating”.
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