U.K. regulators are pretty pissed at Barclays (NYSE: BCS), you guys. But they might as well be angry at a leopard for having spots.
Barclays was hit with a £72 million ($108.5 million) fine on Thursday, with a U.K. regulator claiming that it had worked with "ultra-high-net-worth clients" in a manner that could have helped financial crime take place.
The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) said the U.K. bank, which has a market capitalization of £37.6 billion ($56.7 billion) went to "unacceptable lengths to accommodate the clients." This is in relation to a £1.88 billion transaction that Barclays conducted in 2011 and 2012 on behalf of these rich clients, which was the biggest of its kind that the bank had executed for individuals.
The fine is the largest ever imposed for financial crime failings by the regulatory body, or its predecessor, the Financial Services Authority (FSA).
That's some slap on the wrist. What were these "unacceptable lengths" that Barclays went to, and why?
Barclays did not follow its standard procedures, preferring instead to take on the clients as quickly as possible and thereby generate £52.3 million in revenue, it said.
Oh, just a bit of jolly old revenue grabbing, we're sure that the chaps at Barclays had a solid reason...
"Barclays did not obtain information that it was required to obtain from the clients to comply with financial crime requirements. Barclays did not do so because it did not wish to inconvenience the clients. Barclays agreed to keep details of the transaction strictly confidential, even within the firm, and agreed to indemnify the clients up to £37.7 million in the event that it failed to comply with these confidentiality restrictions," the FCA said.
So, British regulators are punishing a British bank for trying to make money by being obsequiously polite to rich and powerful British people?
What's next, fining Hugh Grant every time he charmingly dithers? Demanding money from Mr. Bean every time he's hilarious? Or - perish the thought - penalizing Adele for singing?
Get a grip on yourself, U.K. bank regulators, we can't risk hurting Adele.