BARCLAYS last night struck a $298m (£192m) deal with US authorities over charges it violated trade sanctions.
The shock announcement came just 24 hours after the judge who endorsed the settlement branded it a “sweetheart deal” which the government should be concerned about.
The banking giant was in the dock over allegations it broke the Trading with the Enemy Act and Emergency Economic Powers Act by conducting $500m worth of deals with Cuba, Iran, Libya, Sudan and Myanmar between 1995 and 2006.
Judge Emmet Sullivan grudgingly approved the agreement after an hour-long hearing but slammed the culture in which bankers can “come into court, plead guilty, go back on the subway, go home and watch soap operas and life goes on”.
He was furious the bank did not plead guilty despite accepting some of its staff had changed the wording on several transfers to hide their origin. He was also angry that the fine would be paid by shareholders instead of executives.
Under the deal reached with the US Justice Department, Barclays will pay $149m to the US government and a separate $149m in a deferred prosecution agreement with the district attorney.