Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images
A group of pranksters gatecrashed an investment banking event at a Mayfair hotel to present Barclays with an award for “Innovation in Interest Rate Manipulation”.The activists struck at the Investment Banking Awards at the Sheraton Hotel in Mayfair, which they describe as the “Oscars of the financial world”.
“Some of the world’s richest bankers have gathered to congratulate each other on devising ever more creative ways to make themselves obscene sums of money,” reads the narrator in a video of the stunt released this morning.
Two pranksters are seen taking to the stage at the event, hosted by BBC newsreader Peter Sissons, to hand out their own award for “Innovation in Interest Rate Manipulation” to Barclays.
The man and woman attempt to gift a bottle of Bollinger champagne to staff from the bank, but it goes uncollected as they are swiftly escorted from the hotel. One of the men ushering them out is heard asking for their video camera.
Rosie Rogers, the woman seen in the video, said: “The idea that these companies are usefully ‘innovating’ is a joke. It was exactly this sort of ‘innovation’ that caused the financial crisis and drove the global economy into recession.
“These companies aren’t ‘innovators’ or ‘wealth creators’, they are parasites. They are leeching wealth from the real economy… The sooner the UK economy is rebalanced away from financial services, the better.”
Barclays was fined £290m earlier this year for attempting to manipulate the world’s benchmarking borrowing rate Libor. Emails uncovered as part of a three-year investigation into claims that some banks had attempted to manipulate the rate show one Barclays employee ask for it to be set “as high as possible today”, to which an unnamed staff member replied “sure”. The first employee replied: “Dude. I owe you big time! Come over one day after work and I’m opening a bottle of Bollinger.”
Barclays was not available for comment this morning.
The group of pranksters call themselves The Intruders and claim on their website to “crash the parties of the wealthy elite that caused the global financial crisis”.
The group were behind a similar stunt last month where an after-dinner speech by the former head of HMRC, Dave Hartnett, was interrupted by protesters who awarded the retired official with a “lifetime achievement award to corporate tax planning”.
HMRC was accused of agreeing controversial “sweetheart” deals with large businesses over outstanding tax bills while it was still run by Mr Hartnett. The issue exploded last year after a whistleblower revealed that HMRC had waived as much as £20m of interest on a £30m tax bill owed by Goldmans on bankers’ bonuses. It was also accused of letting Vodafone off as much as £8bn in taxes by accepting a £1.25bn settlement.
It was cleared by a National Audit Office report in June, although it was told to clean up its processes to remove the suspicion of unhealthy relationships with companies. At the time HMRC said: “We welcome today’s report. We have always maintained that the settlements represented good value for the UK.”