LIBOR or LIEBOR? Barclays and the great Con Trick which allowed it to survive.
So Barclays manipulated inter bank lending rates unlawfully.
The US authorities have "brought attempted manipulation and false reporting charges against Barclays". Barclays have had to pay $360Million in penalties to the US Department of Justice and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission.
False Reporting charges would in other contexts have resulted in a knock on the door from the Fraud plod in the UK. The FSA, compared with the US authorities, though, rather limply fines Barclays for what it calls "misconduct" and fines it a paltry, peanuts of a fine (for them)of £59.5Million
The simple fact is that they were conning us. They were tricksters.
One might normally be a little more careful with words, but this time they really were caught with their hands in the till, but apparently these hands and this till involve, thus far, no criminal penalty. What they did should carry criminal, imprisonable penalties, apparently it does not. At the very least Bob Diamond should pay with his job.
But, nevertheless, Barclays Bank (they have effectively coughed to this) was literally conning us - a giant confidence trick. They tried, and they lied to try, to show that the market actually had confidence in them when the market did not. The rates at which they were borrowing on the wholesale open markets indicated that the market thought they were a bad bet, along with all the others.
In order to stop a death spiral in confidence, they lied.
The problem for them is not just the immediate unlawful breach, but the fact that the main point of doing all of this in the opening of the crisis in 2007/8 was to prevent itself actually becoming an immediate casualty.
It has been my judgement all along that Barclays was in danger of going belly up along with RBS/NatWest and HBOS. Their lying (again, they have coughed to this) to the markets and everyone else seems to have been a necessity.
Readers of my Birmingham Post blogs will be aware that I have not held back in the past in my criticism of Barclays in its pretence that it was an unbailed-out, strong bank in contrast to the other UK bank basket cases.
My argument was that it was just lucky, and it and HSBC were the last banks standing in a collapse.
Just as in the States in the auto industry it was the later Obama-bailed-out General Motors that went bust rather than Ford (who had entirely fortuitously and without any foreknowledge or prescience) sorted things out with its banks, perilously close to the later collapse.
So with Barclays.
There was nothing fundamentally different in their banking business models and practices to those of all of the others, most of which went bust. Barclays only really survived because the others went bust first. Someone had to survive, because governments decided they had to step in to salvage something.
Desperately, Barclays then turned to Middle East Sovereign wealth funds for a bailout to avoid asking the UK government for one. It effectively got a government bailout - just from the Middle East instead.
They still participated in the various taxpayer-funded and -backed liquidity schemes: from taxpayers without love.
Without bailout by the UK taxpayer of the entire UK bank system, Barclays would have gone belly up along with HSBC.
So it is no surprise to me that they panicked and pulled off this con trick.
Bearing in mind that, without doubt, the most important asset in banking is, indeed, confidence, then a bank playing a confidence trick is extremely serious.
That they were left standing allowed them to spend 2 to 3 years hoovering up all the free money at cheap rates pumped out by central banks the world over. They actually took their cuts in all of the deals to move this money around the world economy. Without real competition they could charge what they like and they did. They even hoovered up Lehman brothers and mopped up Stateside.
They could only do so and go from strength to strength because they were there. They survived - just. It could have been a different story.
And would it have been a different story if Barclays had told the truth, had been honest to the market, and as importantly to you and me as taxpayers? I believe that it would have been a different sorrier tale; and Barclays would have ended up in the bailout queue with all the rest.
When first we practise to deceive, the tangled web we weave can sometimes work out very nicely indeed in the end, actually.
It can also mean the difference between life and death, it seems, for this bank.