He is stepping down in the wake of fierce shareholder and political pressure over the bank’s “misconduct”. Barclays was fined a record £290m last week for attempting to manipulate the interbank lending rate, Libor, between 2005 and 2009 reports The Telegraph.
Mr Agius, chairman for the past five years, said on Monday: “Last week’s events – evidencing as they do unacceptable standards of behaviour within the bank – have dealt a devastating blow to Barclays reputation. As Chairman, I am the ultimate guardian of the bank’s reputation. Accordingly, the buck stops with me and I must acknowledge responsibility by standing aside.”
He is believed to be hoping his departure will serve as a lightning rod to conduct anger away from the bank and its chief executive Bob Diamond, who is facing calls to resign.
Alongside his resignation, Barclays also launch an independent audit of the bank’s business practices in an attempt to restore the bank’s reputation.
It will “undertake a root and branch review of all of the past practices” that have been “revealed as flawed” since the credit crisis started. The report, which will be made public, will lead to the creation of new, mandatory code of conduct at Barclays.
“We will establish a zero-tolerance policy for any actions that harm the reputation of the bank,” the bank said in a statement.
Mr Diamond, who said Mr Agius’ decision to resign “deserves all of our respect”, welcomed the audit. He said: “I am committed to ensuring that the recommendations from this review are implemented in full, as part of a broader programme to continue to build a culture that all of those with a stake in Barclays can be proud of.”
Mr Agius, a former investment banker at Lazard who was paid a salary of £750,000 a year at Barclays, said: “I am truly sorry that our customers, clients, employees and shareholders have been let down. Barclays is full of hard working, talented individuals whose integrity is not in question.”