The chairman of Barclays has hit out against the £20bn in fines and taxes imposed on the bank in recent years as it chopped its dividend and announced it was scaling back in Africa to focus on the UK and US.
As Barclays reported an 8% fall in profits to £2.1bn in 2015, John McFarlane warned about the “societal costs” of multibilllion pound taxes and finesand complained that last year’s £1.5bn fine for foreign exchange rigging was one of the highest imposed, even though Barclays’ offences were the same as rivals.
“A £50m fine or penalty is the equivalent of employing 1,000 fewer employees, closing 100 small regional branches, or forgoing the capacity to lend over £500m to small businesses or consumers,” McFarlane wrote in the bank’s annual report. “The charges are not proportionate to our smaller size and ability to pay relative to many of our peers.”
The bank is to cut its dividend payout to shareholders by more than 50% for the coming two years. However it has cut its bonus pool by only 10% to £1.6bn and paid 323 staff more than £1m. The highest paid director, whose identity is not revealed, received £9.5m.
A world where a fine is seen as a cost rather than er encouragement to actually obey the law.