Barclays Fined for Gold Rigging

Zacks

Improper legacy business conduct continues to dent Barclays PLC’s (BCS) reputation. The U.K.-based major global bank was fined £26 million ($43.9 million) by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) on Friday.

The fine resulted from  the banking baron’s failure to maintain internal controls that allowed the manipulation of fixing of gold prices. Notably, the FCA stated that such inadvertencies at Barclays continued from 2004 till 2013 with the main event (that led to the probe) occurring on Jun 28, 2012. This was the very next day of the bank being fined £59.5 million ($450 million) by the FCA for its alleged role in the LIBOR rigging scandal.

Daniel James Plunkett, a trader at Barclays exploited this weakness and manipulated the fixing of gold prices on Jun 28. Plunkett, a director on the precious metals desk at Barclays, rigged the gold price to avoid making a payment of £2.3 million ($3.9 million) to a client who had taken a derivative position in gold.

The probe was initiated on the basis of the complaint made by the client. Further, Plunkett has been fined £95,600 and banned from any regulated financial role.

The gold prices are fixed by a group of bankers in London through matching buy and sell orders on a twice-daily basis by telephone calls Apart from Barclays, other banks in the panel are The Bank of Nova Scotia (BNS), HSBC Holdings PLC (HSBC) and Société Générale SA. Notably, Deutsche Bank AG (DB) removed itself from the panel earlier this year.

The FCA stated that as both Barclays and Plunkett have agreed to settle the probe, they qualified for 30% discount in their respective fines. Though the penalty amounts are not large, we believe that such incidents create doubts in the minds of investors about the internal control measures at the company and in turn, mar its credibility as well.

Currently, Barclays carry a Zacks Rank# 5 (Strong Sell).

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