Barclays chairman 'truly sorry'
The rate-rigging scandal has claimed its first scalp as Barclays confirmed its chairman Marcus Agius is to step down.
Mr Agius, who was chairman for six years, said: "This has been a period of unprecedented stress and turmoil for the banking industry in particular and for the wider world economy in general."
The move comes after Barclays was fined £290 million by UK and US regulators for manipulating the Libor, the rate at which banks lend to each other.
The bank said Mr Agius will remain in post until an "orderly succession is assured" and added Barclays non-executive director Sir Michael Rake has been appointed deputy chairman.
Mr Agius added: "I am truly sorry that our customers, clients, employees and shareholders have been let down. Barclays is full of hard-working, talented individuals whose integrity is not in question."
The bank has also agreed to launch an audit, led by Sir Michael, to review "flawed" past practices that have been revealed. The findings of the inquiry will be revealed in a public report and the bank will produce a new, mandatory code of conduct.
Mr Agius said: "Last week's events - evidencing as they do unacceptable standards of behaviour within the bank - have dealt a devastating blow to Barclays' reputation. As chairman, I am the ultimate guardian of the bank's reputation. Accordingly, the buck stops with me and I must acknowledge responsibility by standing aside." He added: "It goes without saying that Barclays will continue to have my wholehearted support in the future."
Barclays chief executive Bob Diamond said Mr Agius's decision "deserves all of our respect", adding: "He has been a thoughtful and supportive colleague to me in all of my roles - especially since I became chief executive last year - and for this I will always be grateful. I welcome the board's undertaking of an independent, third-party audit of our business practices. I am committed to ensuring that the recommendations from this review are implemented in full, as part of a broader programme to continue to build a culture that all of those with a stake in Barclays can be proud of."
Labour leader Ed Miliband said the resignation of Mr Agius was not enough, and repeated his call for Mr Diamond to step down. He told ITV's Daybreak. "I think there needs to be a more general change of leadership including the chief executive, Bob Diamond. I do not think it is enough more generally because people just going, resigning, isn't really getting to the bottom of what happened, who is responsible and punishing those who did wrong.
"I want to see criminal sanctions against those who broke the law. If you go out and nick £50 worth of goods from your local Tesco's, you are punished, or at least we hope you are punished. If you fiddle, lie, cheat, to the tune of millions of pounds you should also have the full force of the law brought against you, in my view."