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Ex-Barclays chief says he was told to get Libor rates down

A former Barclays director who told staff to lower their Libor submissions in the midst of the financial crisis following a misunderstanding with the Bank of England has said the move seemed "appropriate".

Jerry del Missier was dragged into the affair when it emerged he had misinterpreted a conversation between Bob Diamond and Bank of England deputy governor Paul Tucker as an instruction to lower Libor submissions amid fears over Barclays' financial health.

The Canadian banker, who resigned as Barclays' chief operating officer two weeks ago at the same time as Bob Diamond quit as chief executive, said he "fully expected" staff to take into account the views raised by the Bank that the bank's rates were too high.

However, Mr del Missier told the Treasury Select Committee that he only spoke to the head of the money market desk and did not follow up to check what effect his instruction had on Libor submissions.

Mr del Missier told the committee he believed the Bank of England alone instructed Barclays to lower Libor submissions.

Mr Diamond previously told the committee he did not believe the Bank of England instructed the bank to lower the inter-bank lending rate and did not believe he instructed Mr del Missier to do so.

Asked how he could have misinterpreted Mr Diamond's conversation, Mr del Missier said: "I can only tell you what I clearly recall from the conversation."

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Mr del Missier, who was co-head of the investment arm Barclays Capital at the time the rates were lowered in 2008, denied that the low-balling of Libor rates was "improper" in the context of what was happening in the financial sector at the time.

He said: "What was communicated to me by Mr Diamond was that there was political pressure on the bank regarding Barclays' health, and that we should get our Libor rates down."

MP Pat McFadden raised a number of examples of when Libor-fixing had been raised in the press, including references in the Financial Services Authority (FSA) report.

Mr McFadden said Barclays "was up to its armpits in dishonest activity" in the year running up to the phone call - and said it was hard to believe Mr del Missier was unaware it was occurring.

Mr del Missier, who was separately investigated by the FSA and cleared of any wrongdoing, said: "The fact that there were control breakdowns is unacceptable. That's why we're here and I deeply regret that."

Asked if he was the "fall guy" for Mr Diamond, he said: "I don't think I'm acting as a fall guy. I've resigned my position with the bank, for the good of the bank. I'm not the fall guy for anything."