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Libor scandal: Tucker feud with Diamond intensifies

Bank of England deputy governor asks for a hearing with lawmakers

Bob Diamond
Image Credit: AP
Tainted Barclays chief executive Bob Diamond gives evidence to the Treasury SelectCommittee at Portcullis House, London, yesterday. Diamond resigned as chief executive officera day earlier in response to a scandal of false interest rate reporting.
Gulf News

London: Bank of England Deputy Governor Paul Tucker asked for a hearing with lawmakers to give his version of events over a telephone call with former Barclays Plc’s chief Robert Diamond as the Libor furor intensifies.

Tucker wants to attend a hearing with UK Parliament’s Treasury Select Committee “as soon as possible” over the attempted manipulation of Libor, the central bank in London said in the emailed statement today. He is “keen to give evidence to the committee in order to clarify the position with regard to the events involving the Bank of England, including the telephone conversation with Bob Diamond on October 29, 2008.”

A spokesman for the Treasury Committee had no immediate comment on Tucker’s request when contacted by telephone.

Tucker was drawn into the scandal after Barclays released a note of the 2008 call purporting to show that he hinted the bank could cut its Libor rates.

Diamond resigned as chief executive officer after regulators fined the bank 290 million pounds (Dh1.67 billion) for attempting to rig the London interbank offered rate.

An October 30, 2008, email from Diamond, then the Barclays investment-banking chief, to John Varley, CEO at the time, reads that “Tucker stated that the levels of calls he was receiving from Whitehall were ‘senior’ and that while he was certain we did not need advice, that it did not always need to be the case that we appeared as high as we have recently.”

Government source

Paul Myners, a Labour Party lawmaker in Parliament’s upper House of Lords, who was minister for the City, London’s financial district, under the last administration, denied he was the source. Ed Balls, the Labour Treasury spokesman who was a Cabinet minister at the time, and former minister Shriti Vadera also denied they spoke to Tucker about Libor. Tucker was markets director at the Bank of England at the time.

The central bank’s discussions on Libor stretch back to at least November 2007, when the issue was raised in a meeting of regulators and bankers led by Tucker to discuss liquidity strains in the U.K.

Minutes of the Sterling Money Markets Liaison Group say “several group members thought that Libor fixings had been lower than actual traded interbank rates through the period of stress.” British Bankers Association representative John Ewan “outlined the quality control and safeguard measures used by the BBA to ensure the quality of Libor,” the minutes said. “Dispersion between panel banks’ submissions had increased during August but had since fallen back, in part reflecting clarification from the BBA on Libor definitions.”