The Financial Conduct Authority visited Barclays 186 times last year. That’s more than double the 85 appointments the FCA had with HSBC, and almost triple the 65 visits to Royal Bank of Scotland, according to a report from Bloomberg.
The FCA, which is a five-minute walk from Barclays HQ in Canary Wharf, London, is responsible for making sure banks don’t rip off their customers and for fining them when they do.
The number of visits does not correspond exactly to how frequently rules are being broken, but it does illustrate the trouble the bank has had trying to rehabilitate itself after it became the first big lender to be fined over manipulating the Libor interest rate benchmark in 2012. (The London Inter-Bank Offered Rate is the interest rate at which banks agree to lend each other money.)
Barclays had to pay out £290 million in the scandal, which led to the dismissal of then-CEO Bob Diamond and a huge overhaul of corporate culture in the industry. Barclays responded by appointing Antony Jenkins as CEO. He came from the retail operation, and was seen as the antidote to Diamond, an investment banking stalwart.
But Jenkins could neither get a grip on his bank’s behaviour nor reproduce the Diamond-era profits. The FCA fined the Barclays £284 million in May for failing to control its currency traders, who were accused of rigging the foreign exchange markets. It was the culmination of a complicated investigation and likely explains all the FCA visits. Jenkins, nicknamed “Mr. Nice”
was ousted this month by new chairman John McFarlane.
It’s interesting to note that both Barclays and the FCA lost their CEOs this month. Former FCA chief Martin Wheatley suffered a similar fate at the hands of U.K. Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne last week.
Domestic banks weren’t the only ones in the FCA’s sights last year. The figures, derived from a freedom of information request, also show that Deutsche Bank and Goldman Sachs received 46 and 44 visits respectively.