Barclays scandal reaches UK politicians

Press TV
6/7/12
The Barclays scandal sparks a war of words in the House of Commons.
The Barclays Bank interest rate rigging scandal has led to a war of words between British Chancellor George Osborne and his shadow counterpart Ed Balls in the House of Commons.

Speaking to a British parliamentary committee on Wednesday, Robert Diamond, who has resigned as Barclays Chief Executive Officer, blamed US and British authorities for the rate-rigging scandal.

Diamond said Barclays had raised concerns on several occasions with American and British authorities about discrepancies over how the London Interbank Offered Rate (Libor) was set. However, the London-based lender was not told to stop the practice.

Bitter personal exchanges between Osborne and Balls erupted on Thursday 5 June in the Commons as Osborne suggested that Balls had known about the lender’s manipulation of Libor, a measure of how much banks charge each other for loans.

Balls denied any involvement in the scandal and criticized Osborne’s conduct saying it “demeaned” the office of Chancellor. 

“The cheap and partisan and desperate way in which you and your aides have conducted yourselves in recent days does you no good, it demeans the office you hold and most important it makes it harder to achieve the lasting consensus we need”, said Balls.

While Osborne urged Balls to “explain what Labour’s involvement was, who were the ministers?”, Balls said they were “false personal accusations” which were made “in the hope of political advantage”.

Meanwhile, British MPs agreed on a limited parliamentary investigation into the scandal while the Labour party called for a “full, open judge-led public inquiry”.

This comes as Barclays hired British ex-Prime Minister Tony Blair’s former adviser Tim Allan to help them tackle the scandal.