Exclusive: Bank Boss Under Bonus Pressure

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A number of directors at Barclays (LSE: BARC.L - news) believe that Bob Diamond, the Barclays chief executive, will have to hand back millions of pounds in past bonuses if he is to save his job, I have learned.

"It would have to be on a voluntary basis but a meaningful gesture of some kind is needed," a person close to the board tells me.

Leading shareholders are also applying pressure to the Barclays board to ensure that a more material financial sacrifice is made by Diamond ahead of his appearance in front of the Treasury Select Committee on Wednesday.

Last week, Diamond and three of his executive colleagues said they would waive any bonus entitlement for 2012 in light of the bank’s £290m fine for rigging the Libor benchmark interest rate.

One investor called that move "meaningless".

He said that because many shareholders believe that awarding any bonus for this year would have been impossible after Barclays’ tax avoidance settlement with the Government, the interest rate swaps mis-selling scandal and last week’s fines by regulators in the UK and US.

None of the shareholders to whom I’ve spoken think that the resignation of Marcus Agius, the chairman, will in itself be sufficient to restore faith in Diamond. Barclays confirmed this morning my disclosure yesterday that it was poised to commission an independent inquiry into the culture of the bank.

I’m told that Diamond is likely to reflect on the pressure to hand back some of the vast riches he was awarded during the 2005-08 period in which Barclays traders attempted to rig the Libor rate.

To be clear, there is no mechanism to force him to do that because clawback did not become an established element of directors’ contracts until recently.

In 2006 Diamond was paid a cash bonus of £10.425m and handed a £4.518m award under the bank’s executive share scheme; in 2007 he received a cash bonus of £6.5m and a share award of £11.375m; in 2008, following the collapse in the bank’s share price amid the global financial meltdown, he received only his base salary of £250,000.

The person close to Barclays' board said Diamond's attempt to present the bank as a responsible corporate citizen would look ridiculous if he did not forfeit part of his earnings from the period in which Barclays traders had falsified Libor submissions.

Barclays declined to comment.