Tale of Two Barclays: What Price, Money?


Bob Diamond: Won’t stand down

Two big Barclays stories  pound away at Richard Lutz like dual sledgehammers proving what a skewered maddeningly tilted world we live in.

Barclays Bank has been found to be fixing the finances of about £350 tr (tr= trillion- which is more than I make in a week) in funds by faking the exchange rates. And that has a great impact in our smalltime lives.

And the  Barclay Brothers – I always think of bigtop circuses when I hear their joint name – seem ready to set up their own feudal dynasty in the Channel Islands while they relish to chance to own  a pile of hotels in central London that you and I could never afford to stay in nor even mention in public.

Is there a link? Well, not overtly. But let’s find out.

The bank first. Bob Diamond, the Barclays Bank boss said in 2011: ‘There was a period of remorse and apology for banks. That period needs to be over.’

That was last year. This is this year and his bank, his managers and his traders manipulated  the price of interest rates that have a marked effect on the cost of borrowing around the world.

Now he is to forego his massive bonus. But he will not step down.

I believe in the stark black and white world of guilt in high places. Either Diamond knew this was happening. And therefore he shares in the blame and should be sacked. Or he didn’t know this massive breach of rules was happening under his nose and he should be sacked.

Possibly nothing will happen. Barclays will shrug off the unfolding scandal unveiled by the Financial Services Authority that has ended with a £290m fine and you will see a blizzard of  preposterous ‘positive’ marketing in the year to come. I guarantee it. But the revelations are not over.

This expensive fiasco will explode. Kind of like your bank overdraft.

On to lighter moments in  Barclayworld.  We move to the billionaire Barclay Brothers (ok, ok, there is the letter  ‘s’  missing at the end but let’s not be petty) . They have no link with the bank except in name. But the pair more or less own the Channel Island of Sark though the locals are none too happy about the way they handle this heavy handed ownership.

Apart from this tiny sceptred isle that they control, they (or rather their lawyers) are in court trying to buy Claridge’s Hotel  The Connaught and The Berkeley. They already own The Ritz. The Court of Appeal, according to reports, are not really standing in the  way to take over these piles of five star  opulence. If you want to find out more, read The Daily Telegraph. The boys own it too.

So where does this leave us except with a disquieting unease  if not anger over this  name – Barclay – and how it has blasted its way into the news and finance pages this week

It leaves us with the sulphurous stink that there are always wadges of Britain that read like a Hollywood script – whether as a movie called Big  Money Talks and Cheats  or as a dark ridiculous fantasy  entitled  The Brothers Sark: Part the 7.

If there is a tenuous tie to these two Barclay stories (and boy, I am really working hard on this) it is the question:  Where does it all stop when it comes to the putrid dance for more money. Quo Vadimus?

I went to a funeral recently to watch a body tearfully placed in the embracing earth. The person had nothing to take. All the racing around, all the lies and machinations led… to nothing.  Except hopefully some cherished memories clutched by a small group of people. Maybe the Barclay brood or the Barclays Bank mob should think about that. What price…money?