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OPINION

Abigail with attitude: The hypocrisy of Jenkins revisited

After my March column had been published, I suffered a pang of writer’s remorse. Had I been too harsh when I criticized the “crony capitalist culture” at Barclays’ investment bank and accused group chief executive Antony Jenkins of hypocrisy?

“Another thing that irks me,” I wrote, “is that, despite much pontificating about changing the culture of the investment bank, the top managers are still the old guard. A complete change of culture? Please, don’t talk nonsense.” My writer’s remorse was assuaged, however, when the Salz review  was published in early April. This was a voluminous review commissioned last summer after the bank was fined some £290 million for manipulating the Libor rate. It was put together by Anthony Salz, a Rothschild vice-chairman, and cost £17 million to produce.

How much? And why was Rothschild paid £1.5 million for giving up Salz for the duration of writing the report? That’s more than Jenkins’s annual salary.

The report talked about warped pay levels, an “entitlement culture” and a lack of “transparency and candour”. It didn’t make pretty reading, but should not have come as a shock to anyone who has been diligently following this column during the past seven years. And funnily enough, no one had to pay me £17 million to draw these conclusions.

Salz claimed that pay levels at Barclays were one of the most pernicious cultural problems, particularly among an inner circle at the top of the firm that he dubbed “the top 70”.