Barclays sets aside $1.2 billion to cover cost of foreign exchange scandal

LONDON – Barclays set aside another 800 million pounds ($1.2 billion) on Wednesday to cover the cost of allegations that it manipulated foreign exchange markets as Britain’s second-biggest bank seeks to put the scandals of the past behind it.

Barclays said the provisions helped push first-quarter net income down 52 per cent to 465 million pounds.

But the bank says it is making progress in its effort to rebuild the business, with adjusted pretax earnings from core operations rising 14 per cent to 2.1 billion pounds. This figure excludes one-time items and results from businesses that Barclays plans to exit.

CEO Antony Jenkins says the performance is evidence that the bank’s strategy is working.

“Resolving legacy conduct issues is also an important part of our plan to transform Barclays,” Jenkins said.

The bank is on a mission to overhaul its corporate culture after a string of scandals, including a role in rigging the London interbank offered rate, or Libor, a benchmark for consumer interest rates around the world.

British regulators have also conducted an investigation into the bank’s involvement in alleged currency market manipulation. The case has broader implications than the Libor probe as it goes to the integrity of the markets rather than just a single rate. While a handful of other banks have settled on the allegations, Barclays has not.

Jenkins has made restoring trust in the battered institution the centerpiece of his leadership. Jenkins took over as chief executive in 2012, and has instituted change — distancing the institution from the swashbuckling culture of his predecessor, Bob Diamond.

Shares in Barclays were down 1.2 per cent in London trading.