Bob Diamond was rounded on by his former right-hand-man and three top City regulators today as he was accused of giving the direct instruction to lower the Libor rates at the heart of the rigging scandal. Jerry del Missier, former chief operating officer at Barclays, told the Treasury Select Committee that Mr Diamond had clearly told him in October 2008 to “get our Libor rates down”. The disclosure came as the former Barclays boss was branded as being “less than candid” with MPs over the Libor scandal. Mr Diamond’s testimony from last week – that Mr del Missier asked traders to lower Libor in October 2008 after “misinterpreting” an email – was crushed by Mr del Missier’s claims that the order was relayed to him in a telephone conversation. Mr del Missier, the third of the three senior directors ejected from Barclays to be grilled by MPs over the scandal that cost the bank £290m in fines, confirmed that he had given the low-balling orders, The Telegraph reports.
Bank of England Governor Sir Mervyn King will face a grilling from MPs today on his efforts to nurse the British economy out of a double-dip recession. Sir Mervyn’s appearance before the House of Commons Treasury comes a day after the International Monetary Fund slashed its UK growth forecast to just 0.2% for 2012 and 1.4% for 2013 and less than a week after the announcement of an emergency £80bn “funding for lending” scheme designed to ward off a credit squeeze. He is also likely to face further questions about his handling of the Libor rate-fixing scandal, after it emerged that the then president of the US Federal Reserve Tim Geithner raised concerns with him about the index as long ago as 2008. A former member of the Bank’s Monetary Policy Committee has called for Sir Mervyn to be removed before his term comes to an end in June 2013, The Telegraph says.
One of Britain’s biggest energy companies has been held to account for doorstep mis-selling after a four-year legal battle. David Osborn, a 59-year-old environmental consultant from Bristol, won his case against npower at Bristol County Court in what is believed to be the first time that an energy supplier has been successfully taken to court by a customer over doorstep mis-selling. The company also paid him £1,200 to settle harrassment claims after instructing ten debt collection agencies to chase money that it wrongly claimed he owed. Over almost two years, Mr Osborn and his family were subjected to threats that bailiffs would forcibly enter their home and disconnect electricity and gas, the court was told. A computer program was used to telephone the family up to four times a day, The Times reports.
Changes to the tax system are making Britain a more attractive drilling location for oil and gas companies than arch-rival Norway, according to a report published today. Drilling activity in British waters leapt by 64% year-on-year in the three months to 30 June, compared with a 33% fall in Norway, Deloitte’s quarterly report found. Existing tax breaks – for heavy oil, high-temperature, high-pressure and small fields – are tipping the balance in favour of investment in British waters, the accountancy firm reported, with measures outlined in the Budget expected to give a further boost to drilling. Graham Sadler, managing director of Deloitte’s petroleum services group, told The Scotsman: “The post-winter spurt in activity does seem a little bit bigger than normal, so these figures are encouraging.”
Scotland’s small manufacturers have “ambitious growth plans” but are being held back by rising fuel and transport costs as well as late-paying customers, research suggests. Supply chain problems are also constraining firms from expanding, according to a study by the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) in Scotland. The organisation, which quizzed almost 100 companies across a diverse range of sectors, said more attention should be paid to businesses that account for almost 90% of the country’s manufacturing sector. The findings indicate that, while about two-fifths of small manufacturers plan to develop products, 23% want to expand into other sectors and more than a fifth – or 22% – are looking to tap into further territories, many of them are being held back by the economic climate. The cost of fuel was cited by 95% of respondents as a reason for the lack of growth, while 88% said transport was a key barrier to expansion, The Scotsman writes.
The pound hit new 44-month highs today versus the euro and will be worth €1.33 in a month’s time, according to one analyst. As the euro continued to be undermined by worries over the financial stability of Italy and Spain, it fell to a level of 78.4p – it’s lowest since late October 2008. That means the pound is now worth €1.275 on the foreign exchange markets. Continued uncertainty about the Spanish banks’ bailout package and expectations of further interest rate cuts by the European Central Bank are putting pressure on the euro and one analyst predicted sterling would soon hit €1.33, The Daily Mail says.
Greenpeace activists shut down 74 Shell petrol stations in Edinburgh and London in a protest against the company’s plans to drill for oil in the Arcticthat saw 24 campaigners arrested on Monday. The campaigners are attempting to shut off petrol to London’s 105 Shell stations and Edinburgh’s 14. Seventy-one have been closed in London and three in Edinburgh. There have been 24 confirmed arrests, 18 in London and six in Edinburgh. The police in Edinburgh have reportedly parked cars outside all Shell stations across the capital. Protesters have scaled the roof of the Shell station on Queenstown Road near Battersea Park in London and on Dalry Road in Edinburgh, with police and fire crews attending the scene in Edinburgh, The Guardian reports.