UK court identifies Barclays staff named in Libor probe

LONDON Sat Jan 26, 2013 12:23am IST

A logo of Barclays bank is seen outside a branch in Altrincham, northern England April 26, 2012. REUTERS/Phil Noble

A logo of Barclays bank is seen outside a branch in Altrincham, northern England April 26, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Phil Noble

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LONDON (Reuters) - A number of current and past executives at Barclays are on a list of individuals named in documents relating to the regulatory investigation into the Libor rate-rigging scandal, court documents released on Friday showed.

Guardian Care Homes, a residential carehome operator based in Wolverhampton, England, is suing Barclays for up to 37 million pounds in a claim that it was mis-sold interest rate hedging products which were based on Libor.

The Guardian Care Homes case is the first to link a complaint over the alleged mis-selling of interest rate swaps to the investigation into attempts to manipulate Libor and other benchmarket interest rates.

The case is already shining a light on those involved in the bank's interest rate-setting process and asking fresh questions about the involvement of senior executives in the affair.

On Friday the High Court in London released a list of 25 individuals named in regulatory documents concerning the Libor investigation which have been lodged with the court and which refer to attempts by Barclays to manipulate Libor.

Alongside past executives including former chief executive Bob Diamond, the list features some of the bank's most senior and high profile figures including Rich Ricci, who heads up the investment bank and Finance Director Chris Lucas.

Ricci told UK lawmakers investigating the scandal in November that he was originally a witness in the Libor investigation by regulators, but was cleared. He was then able to lead the bank's internal investigation into the affair.

The American, who was one of Diamond's inner circle and helped build up the investment bank, has been asked by new Chief Executive Antony Jenkins to conduct a reputation-based review of all of Barclays' investment banking activities.

Tim Lord, a lawyer representing Guardian Care Homes, cited documents during a preliminary court hearing on Thursday referring to communications from the "31st floor" - the part of Barclays headquarters in Canary Wharf, London, occupied by senior executives.

The documents referred to "internal political" pressure to set borrowing rates low in a bid to paint a rosier picture of the bank's financial health.

"Guidance, if you can call it that, from the 31st floor is that we don't stick our head above the parapet in any circumstance," read a November 2007 email by Miles Storey, a manager in Barclays' treasury department.

Judge Julian Flaux told the court the documents "showed some debate at a fairly high level within the bank".

The list of 25 names mentioned in the documents included former chief operating officer Jerry del Missier, former compliance head Stephen Morse, money markets desk head Mark Dearlove and former group treasurer Jon Stone.

The publication of the names followed the release of a wider list of 104 names on Thursday after the judge rejected a request that they remain anonymous during the preliminary hearing for the case.

The wider list included employees whose email accounts were disclosed to the regulatory authorities, but it is not suggested in the regulatory findings that they were implicated in the fixing or manipulation of Libor.

Twenty-four of the 25 had requested anonymity prior to publication of the list - the exception being former Barclays trader Jay Merchant, who went on to become head of swaps trading at UBS before leaving his position last August.

Meanwhile Jenkins is due to announce the results of a strategic review of Barclays on February 12. He has already told staff to leave if they do not want to sign up to a new set of standards aimed at rebuilding the bank's reputation after a string of scandals.

(Editing by David Cowell and Greg Mahlich)

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