Abigail Hofman: Bob Diamond was lost in translation
Bob Diamond’s appearance before the Treasury Select Committee was culture clash TV. But the MPs failed to score on the most important issue: the swash-buckling, high octane, risk-taking culture that Diamond created at Barclays Capital led to, indirectly, the Libor scandal and more
On July 4 that once-great American import into the UK, Bob Diamond, the former chief executive of Barclays, appeared before the UK’s House of Commons Treasury Select Committee for three hours. For me, Diamond’s appearance raised more questions than it answered about events at the bank. However, one thing is now clear: a parliamentary committee is the wrong forum to get to the bottom of what occurred, who was hurt and what to do about the banks. A ‘Libor Leveson’ is needed – an independent judicial investigation.
Bob Diamond’s testimony has been described as “implausible” and “obfuscating”. That may be, but Diamond came across as more likeable than the MPs who grilled him. “I’ve decided,” one mole grumbled, “that the only difference between bankers and MPs is that the bankers are paid more.”
Questions remain however. Why did Diamond resign on Tuesday morning, having insisted on Monday that he was staying? Diamond’s note of his conversation with Paul Tucker in October 2008 was ambiguous: “While he [Tucker] was certain that we did not need advice, it did not always need to be the case that we appeared as high [in our Libor submissions] as we have recently.”