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Canadian del Missier to face U.K. MPs over Libor

Former Barclays COO Jerry del Missier.


The third member of the trio of top bankers ejected from Barclays over the Libor scandal will appear before the U.K.'s Treasury select committee Monday, as MPs aim for a clearer view of the bank's manipulation of interbank borrowing rates.

Jerry del Missier, who resigned a fortnight ago as chief operating officer, had previously been co-head of Barclays Capital, the group's investment banking arm. He was also the linchpin in the bank's involvement in "lowballing" Libor, having ordered colleagues to understate the levels at which Barclays told the Libor rate-setting panel that it could borrow.

His resignation followed that of chief executive Bob Diamond and chairman Marcus Agius, though Mr, Agius is staying on to plan the CEO succession process.

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Over the past two weeks, the committee heard first from Mr. Diamond and then from Mr. Agius about how Barclays became embroiled in Libor fixing, with much of the committee's attention focused on a telephone conversation between Mr. Diamond and Paul Tucker, deputy governor of the Bank of England, who was also quizzed by the MPs this month.

That exchange - relayed in an email to Mr. del Missier - included the assessment that Mr. Tucker had felt Barclays' Libor submissions "did not always need to be ... as high as [they] have [been] recently".

Both Mr. Diamond and Mr. Tucker said the conversation and subsequent e-mail were not intended as an instruction to lower the submissions. But Mr. del Missier is said to have "misunderstood or miscommunicated" the message - according to both Mr. Diamond and the conclusions of a U.S.-U.K. regulatory probe that led to a £290-million fine for Barclays over the affair.

Friends of Mr. del Missier disagree over whether he could disturb the version of events that the committee has heard so far.

"Jerry is still close to Bob," says one person who knows him well. "He is not going to implicate him." However, others believe he will be keen to give as straight a version of events as possible.

"Jerry is a boy scout," says one. "There are no shades of grey to his integrity. He will not be mean-spirited towards Bob or Tucker. But he won't obfuscate either. He'll tell the truth."

His testimony could reopen the question of the extent to which the Bank of England sanctioned Barclays' "lowballing".

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Alongside Mr. Diamond and Rich Ricci, still head of Barclays' investment banking unit, Mr. del Missier was the technical brains behind the three-man team that built up that business over 15 years.

A low-profile figure, he was one of the world's top-paid bankers in 2010, when he received total pay worth more than £40-million. Friends say he was diagnosed with a brain tumour in the past couple of years, but was successfully treated and continued working for Barclays.

They say the Canadian-born banker, who is New York-based, is likely now to take some time off before deciding on his next move, but expect him to move to another investment bank or to set up a hedge fund. It is unclear whether he will maintain close links with Mr. Diamond, who is also set to move back to the U.S. , where his family is based.

Copyright The Financial Times Ltd. All rights reserved.

2012-07-15 16:12:25

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