Barclays chairman questions impact of large bank fines on public confidence

The Guardian:

The outgoing chairman of Barclays said on Monday that big fines on banks were making it harder for the industry to win back public trust.

Sir David Walker, appointed chairman of Barclays in the wake of the Libor-rigging scandal in 2012, also suggested fines were being levied for activities that in the past might have been regarded as acceptable, though he acknowledged past conduct issues needed to be dealt with.

Telling the industry there was an “urgent need for a proactive initiative … to turn the tide” and restore public confidence, Walker said: “Some penalties may be regarded as disproportionately big, and mistrust in some degree has been fed by application of modern regulatory standards to market practices that were long regarded as acceptable to the extent they were under any earlier form of regulatory oversight.”

If he thinks that bank fines are damaging public trust, would be prefer criminal prosecutions of the staff involved?  I’d be interested to know which practices were originally regarded as acceptable.  I remember telling a friend about the LIBOR rigging and his immediate reaction was “oh I don’t think there’s a law stopping it”.   Apart, obviously, from, you know, fraud and benefiting from a crime.

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