Libor was first being fixed before the crash in 2008, as banks “lowballed” the interest rate to make them look more creditworthy than they actually were. This, according to one former chief executive, was hardly worth mentioning: “I don’t think it really matters what happened in 2008.” Really? It doesn’t matter that the banks lied to the world? Or that they were condoning a culture that would lead to more systematic abuses?
More disturbingly, the Bank of England was made aware of what was going on and chose to do nothing. As did the entirely toothless British Bankers’ Association. “Are you clean?” it asked a bank. “We’re not clean-clean,” came the response. “No one is clean-clean,” said the entirely reassured BBA.
There was a modicum of handwringing for the post-crash manipulation of Libor, but there was a marked reluctance on everyone’s part to take any personal blame. The former Barclays chairman Marcus Agius behaved as if his resignation was a high-minded falling on the sword rather than a lancing of the boil. Another Barclays non-exec declared she felt Diamond had been made a scapegoat.