Barclays rate-fixing scandal: Doing the honourable thing

Barclays Bank chariman Marcus Agius to step down Photo: Barclays/PA Wire

In a few hours Marcus Agius will formally resign as chairman of Barclays.

He will be taking the rap for the bank's part in the Libor interest rate-fixing scandal which has drawn howls of outrage over the past few days.

I understand he took the decision himself on Saturday night after talking to his family.

In his resignation statement he will mention the "devastating blow" the unacceptable standards of behaviour unearthed in the scandal have dealt Barclays' reputation.

I expect him to go on to say that, as chairman, the "buck stops" with him.

Barclays CEO Bob Diamond Credit: Press Association

Those sympathetic to him paint Mr Agius as a traditional City gent; a man who is doing the honourable thing.

In times past that meant being left in a room with a bottle of whiskey and a revolver.

Mr Agius is doing the modern, corporate equivalent to save those around him, they say.

But is it enough to save the chief executive of Barclays, Bob Diamond?

Mr Diamond is a far more abrasive character and, as the public face of the bank - and who was in charge of the division at the heart of the scandal for many years - is the man many are demanding be sacked.

Barclays has paid £290m to settle claims its traders rigged the financial markets Credit: Press Association

For now the departure of the chairman may have saved him from the chop but his future depends on a number of constituencies: shareholders, politicians and customers.

Patience is running very thin for a man who was paid almost £18 million last year yet has presided over a series of crises.

He will give evidence before MPs this week and the success (or otherwise) of that session may well determine whether he, too, is left alone in a room to do the honourable thing.

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