Tue, Aug 14, 2012 - Page 15 News List

Barclays head says UK account holders might have to pay

AP, LONDON

The new chairman of Barclays Bank says he will undertake a top-to-bottom review of the embattled business, telling a British newspaper that he is not wedded to any of his predecessor’s policies.

Asked if he was committed to the bank’s current business plan of Barclays, which is reeling from a massive rate-fixing scandal, David Walker told the Sunday Telegraph that he was not “committed to anything except getting it right.”

Walker said he aimed to review the firm’s business plan, but did not want to sound “threatening.”

Walker is due to replace Marcus Agius, who offered his resignation last month following the imposition of a US$453 million fine for manipulating the critical London interbank offered rate, or LIBOR, which is used to calculate borrowing costs for hundreds of trillions of dollars in loans and investments such as bonds, auto loans and derivatives.

The scandal has hit the bank’s reputation and led to a slew of resignations — most publically that of former chief executive Bob Diamond. Regulators are still weighing whether to bring criminal charges against those involved.

Market-watchers had speculated that the scandal would prompt Barclays to pare back its investment banking arm, Barclays Capital, but Walker, who takes over from Agius on Nov. 1, seemed cool to the idea, telling the Telegraph he wanted to remain a “universal bank.”

However, Walker did seem to suggest changes in the way the retail end of the bank works, saying “in principle” he was in favor of charging customers for accounts.

Most British banks offer users free standard checking accounts, but Walker said that created an incentive for banks to find more creative — and riskier — ways to extract money from customers.

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