LONDON, July 16 (Reuters) - Adair Turner, chairman of the Financial Services Authority (FSA), appeared before a House of Commons Treasury Select Committee on Monday as part of a probe into a Libor interest rate rigging scandal.
Below are comments from Turner and FSA staff Andrew Bailey and Tracey McDermott:
”I spoke with Marcus Agius on the afternoon of Friday 29th June. Andrew and I discussed what was the approach to the issue of succession.
”I said to Mr Agius that we were not saying Bob was not fit and proper but the board had to think very seriously about the scale of change which Barclays had to make both in a substantive sense but also in the need for them to have leadership that could convince the external world that they changed culturally and had addressed these issues.
”I said you have got to think about whether that is possible with Bob Diamond or whether that is simply impossible.
”Over the weekend Agius decided he should himself resign. That was an honourable decision but it was a decision which surprised me as I thought that after my conversation with Marcus Agius it was more likely that Bob Diamond would resign.
“I think we were at one with the message we had to give to Barclays.”
“Yes there was a contact there, but the evidence trail shows they were deliberately not being totally honest with us about what was going on.”
“Whatever the form was, the substance was not working.”
“I think there needs to be far more emphasis on internal auditors at large banks. I frankly don’t think they did.”
”There are a number of other banks and institutions under investigation. We have seven institutions we are looking at. They are not all British banks.
“Our investigations are ongoing. We have found a lot of emails. Some interesting ones.”
”Part of the story of the FSA at that time is that we did have, we never used the word, a somewhat light touch regulation in particular in those areas of wholesale conduct.
“We were only to a small extent focused on the activities of investment banks. We only had about five people on Barclays and five people on RBS. At one stage we only had one person that was shared between Barclays and RBS.”
Asked if Libor manipulation had not been taken seriously until the CFTC probe? “I think that is probably the case.”
TURNER ON THE FSA‘S ROLE:
Had the FSA fallen asleep? “The answer is yes, it is concerning. One of the huge challenges we have in regulating a complex financial system is the process of risk identification.”
“We have been pushing this as fast as we can. I think this is a huge problem. I think we should have spotted it ealier. There was a failure in general to see this whole financial crisis coming.”
“I was not aware of issues to do with manipulation of Libor until November 2009. That was when Hector Sants briefed me and said there was a major case we could be involved in.”
“We are certainly pursuing investigations wherever they take us. My strong suspicion if it’s going on it’s going on on a massively reduced scale.”
“I don’t think I ever thought of manipulation of Libor until I was informed ... in mid 2009 when Hector Sants briefed me on major enforcement cases. I don’t think I had ever previously thought ... had ever occurred to me, that this was something that you could manipulate.”
”He (Hector Sants) explained the FSA’s historical concerns re Barclays control and risk appetite. That led me to be concerned about the behaviour ... there was a repeated pattern of behaviour that was not showing signs of changing.
“There was a cultural tendency to always be pushing the limits.”
Asked was Barclays trying it on: “Yes. There was a culture of gaming. It had to change.”
“This is the only letter of this type I have sent as chairman of the FSA.”
“We would expect them to take it very seriously. We would expect the chairman to talk to the CEO and to the board. Agius stressed to me that he and the board would take it very seriously.”
“It was widely known in 2007, 08 that the Libor market was not operating in the way it had previously done.”