BANK of England deputy governor Paul Tucker made a pre-emptive strike to distance himself from the Libor fixing scandal yesterday, asking to give his own evidence to MPs on the topic “as soon as possible”.
Before ex-Barclays boss Bob Diamond had even appeared at the Treasury select committee (TSC) yesterday, Tucker raced to clear his name, saying in a statement he “is keen… to clarify the position with regards to the events involving the Bank of England, including the telephone call”.
Diamond revealed on Tuesday a memo recounting a phone call with Tucker in 2008, in which the Bank official seems to hint he knows of widespread fixing.
Yesterday he told the TSC that Tucker did not tell him to alter his bank’s submissions for the Libor, but had relayed that “senior people in the government” were concerned that Barclays’ figures were too high.
Diamond conceded that Barclays’ Libor submissions fell after Tucker’s call, which he said was not recorded, noting that this coincided with an improving market.
While some market-watchers fretted that Tucker’s involvement could scupper his chances of replacing Sir Mervyn King as the Bank’s governor, others noted the lack of a smoking gun yesterday.
“Diamond seemed to show that the motives [of the call] were pure,” said Andrew Goodwin, economist at the Ernst & Young Item Club. “There was a risk of him saying something particulary toxic, but it turned out to not be the case.”
William Hill has suspended betting on the next Bank governor until Tucker gives evidence.
NEXT BANK OF ENGLAND GOVERNOR OTHER CONTENDERS
Known by his initials GOD, the former head of the civil service has seen his chances rise in recent months, with Paddy Power quoting odds of 7/4. But his closeness to Labour could be dangerous.
The chairman of the Financial Services Authority and House of Lords member has slipped in the rankings since April, and Paddy Power now puts him fourth favourite at 6/1.
The face of the recent banking regulation changes could prove a popular choice outside the City, but he remains an outsider at 20/1 from Paddy Power (faring better at Ladbrokes, with odds of 16/1).
A Goldman Sachs economist as head of the Bank of England? The Mancunian who coined the Bric acronym was the dark horse of the contest, but has been recently quoted at 4/1.