Sir Hector Sants defends decision to join Barclays

Sir Hector Sants

Former FSA chief executive Sir Hector Sants has defended his decision to join Barclays just six months after leaving the regulator.

Sants came under fire giving evidence to the Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards today about whether he is “compromised” by becoming Barclays head of compliance and Government and regulatory relations.

Sants, who was knighted for services to financial services and regulation in the New Year’s Honours List, will join the bank next month. He quit the regulator last June after five years in charge but still recieved his £500,000 salary plus benefits until the end of 2012.

Labour peer Lord John McFall and PCBS chair Andrew Tyrie both questioned whether Sants will be conflicted by his access to FSA information about Barclays’ competitors.

Sants said: “I am definitely not compromised. There is a statutory period where you are not allowed to work for a competitor and I will have passed that period before I start. I don’t have any information.

“The FSA, myself and Barclays are aware of some ongoing cases between the bank and regulator that I was involved in initiating. I have made clear I will not be involved in those cases.

“I have no information that is not in the public domain but we are aware of the perception it may cause. I understand why people raise the question but the safeguards are in place.”

Lord McFall told Sants it is “surprising” he is joining the bank considering the “catalogue” of misbehaviour by Barclays during his time at the FSA.

He said: “Given your interest in the culture and ethics at banks, how have you satisfied yourself that it is ethically appropriate to join Barclays?”

Sants said Barclays is a “great British financial institution” and it is “vital” it is run differently in the future.

He said: “I have spent the last five years thinking deeply about these issues and have tried to learn from the many searing experiences I have had. I think I can bring to Barclays great insights in how to help them.

“I believe the new management team and chief executive Anthony Jenkins are absolutely committed to change and I would not have gone there if I did not think they were. I believe I can help them take forward this change agenda. They have got to change.”