Diamond tipped for US Treasury before bank scandal

Laura Kuenssberg

Former Business Editor

Bob Diamond resigned as Barclays boss on July 3rd. Credit: PA

It feels like quite some time ago that Bob Diamond disappeared back to the United States and, for the moment, out of the public eye.

He may well turn up in a major financial job sooner or later, probably on the other side of the Atlantic, where the mood towards bankers is not quite as hostile.

And as MPs on the Treasury Select Committee prepare their report on Barclays and rate rigging, he may be back in the spotlight here within weeks.

But whispers reach me that he could have been in the headlines this autumn for totally different reasons if all had not gone so wrong at Barclays. American political fanatics might have noticed that the biggest 'bundler' for Mitt Romney is one Patrick Durkin - a senior figure from the investment banking side of Barclays, the former lair of Mr Diamond, and senior lobbyist at the bank.

He is reported to have 'bundled' or gathered more donations than anyone else on behalf of the Romney campaign - more than one million dollars.

Individuals are limited to giving five thousand dollars each, so to tot up more than a million by 'activating your networks', as American lobbyists might say, is quite a feat. And Durkin is said to have stepped into the breach as the host at a glitzy London fundraiser for Romney, after Diamond himself stood down due to the scandal at the bank.

Durkin's closeness to the Romney campaign and closeness to Bob Diamond, or 'RED', as he was known in his court at the bank, was set to lead the former chief executive to a position even more powerful than at the top of one of the world's biggest banks.

With Durkin's backing, I'm told, he was on course to be Mitt Romney's Treasury Secretary if the Republican captured the White House.

Extraordinary as that sounds now after the publication of the 'big boy' and 'Bollinger' emails, and the enormous embarrassment of the rate rigging scandal, he would not have been the first banker to make such a journey from controlling a bank to getting their hands on the levers of the economy of the world's most powerful country.

Hank Paulson, George W Bush's Treasury Secretary who was in charge when Lehman Brothers was allowed to fail, had been the boss of Goldman Sachs.

Hank Paulson shakes hands with Gordon Brown at the US Treasury in 2008. Credit: PA

Sources at Barclays do not deny the suggestion that Diamond might have been heading from Canary Wharf to Washington DC.

One insider says, "who knows what could still happen if Romney wins?"

Neither does the PR firm who looks after Mr Diamond's interests in the UK now.

The Romney campaign itself has not yet responded to queries. But perhaps the rate rigging scandal may not just have sacrified Mr Diamond's UK banking career, but a future in US politics too.