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Home > Opinion > Ashley Wassall

FSA objectivity in question over Diamond departure

Resignation of Barclays chief executive just hours after meeting raises questions over regulator tactics.

By Ashley Wassall | Published Jul 12, 2012 | Regulation | comments

But I can’t help feeling slightly uncomfortable at the thought that a relayed message from the regulator over something as ethereal as whether or not it ‘supports’ an individual can topple a senior executive at a private company - against whom there is no evidence of personal wrongdoing - within hours. Mr Diamond was not even chief executive at the time the alleged rate rigging took place.

What exactly did the regulator do that so frightened Mr Agius and his colleagues that they called Mr Diamond in the middle of the night to expedite his departure the following day?

Moreover, should the regulator be able to do whatever it is they might have done to make life difficult for the bank? Surely a regulator should act with absolute objectivity, issuing fines or banning individuals where there is evidence of regulatory breaches but otherwise remaining impartial.

Isn’t it also a little bit too late for the regulator to be adopting such a strong stance, given that it had failed to inspire any change in an organisation we now know from letters published by the select committee it was concerned about over a period of months leading up to the scandal breaking?

It strikes me that the regulator, which has faced regular criticism over its apparent pusillanimous nature that has seen a number of high-profile issues emerge under its nose, has struck out in a bid to show it still has teeth.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t want a regulator whose reactive bite is as dangerous as its premptive bark. I’d prefer one that sniffs out potential issues before they become major problems in the first place.

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