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Ex-Barclays exec: Culture report for wealth division was 'toxic'

A former Barclays executive — who is fighting a proposed ban from senior jobs in finance — said a review of the compliance culture in its wealth division was "toxic," because it didn’t back up its findings.

Barclays bank neon sign at night
Lights shine from Barclays Plc head offices at the Canary Wharf business, financial and shopping district in London, U.K., on Tuesday, March 21, 2017. Barclays is considering Dublin for their EU base to ensure continued access to the single market, said people familiar with the plans,asking not to be named because the plans aren't public. Photographer: Luke MacGregor/Bloomberg

Andrew Tinney, who was the chief operating officer of Barclays wealth and investment unit, hired consultants in early 2012 to interview senior managers to assess the internal compliance culture following criticism from the SEC, according to testimony he gave in a London court. The point of the review was to see whether anyone had to be "flushed out" to make way for changes, Tinney said.

The U.K.’s Financial Conduct Authority in 2016 said it wanted to ban Tinney from senior positions in the finance industry because he misled colleagues and regulators about the report. On the first day of the court case, an FCA lawyer said Tinney was covertly caught on tape by one of Barclays’s most senior attorneys saying he destroyed his copy of the report. Tinney said he never destroyed the document.

"I was appalled," Tinney said of the document written by the consultants after three days of interviews. "My first reading was what the hell are they doing? Because it’s not what I’d asked them to do. They went beyond their brief.”

The regulator said earlier in the week that nothing in its decision to ban Tinney depended on the covert recording. Tinney is contesting the FCA’s decision, saying he informed senior management about the report and had acted on it.

“I was thinking, oh my god, how could you have produced such a poor piece of work?” Tinney said. “My starting point is this document is toxic and not appropriately supported and internally inconsistent."

Tinney’s proposed ban comes amid a host of regulatory probes where Barclays has paid billions in fines for manipulating key foreign-exchange and interest-rate benchmarks. The FCA is also investigating Chief Executive Officer Jes Staley’s conduct involving a whistle-blower, with a decision on any penalty expected in the coming months.

The third-party report claimed Barclays Wealth Americas pursued “revenue at all costs” and was “actively hostile to compliance,” but Tinney contested FCA findings that some compliance issues were ignored.

"There was no way compliance issues were ignored," Tinney said. "We closed down Buenos Aires because we were concerned about financial crimes."

Barclays was fined $15 million in 2014 by the SEC for poor oversight in its wealth management business, which it later sold to Stifel Financial Corp.