LONDRES, September 23- Britain’s financial watchdog on Tuesday said it had fined Barclays bank almost £38 million for putting client assets at risk, dealing a further blow to the troubled lender.
The Financial Conduct Authority said it had fined Barclays £37.745 million ($62 million, 48 million euros) — the highest ever penalty imposed by British regulators for client asset breaches, which in Barclays’ case occurred between late 2007 and the start of 2012.
Barclays is said to have failed “to properly protect clients’ custody assets worth £16.5 billion”, the FCA said in a statement.
“As a result clients risked incurring extra costs, lengthy delays or losing their assets if Barclays had become insolvent,” it added.
The FCA’s director of markets David Lawton said “Barclays’ lack of focus on the rules was unacceptable”.
Tracey McDermott, FCA director of enforcement and financial crime, said the bank had failed to apply lessons from “previous enforcement actions, numerous industry-wide warnings, and exposed its clients to unnecessary risk”.
Barclays acknowledged it had fallen short of what is expected.
“Barclays has subsequently enhanced its systems to resolve these issues and to ensure we have the requisite processes in place. No client has suffered any loss as a consequence of this weakness in our processes,” the bank added in a statement.
Barclays is undergoing major restructuring in the wake of the 2012 Libor interest-rate rigging scandal that has damaged the reputation of the bank and some of its rivals.
Barclays, which was at the heart of the Libor affair, also faces investigations along with other major lenders over possible manipulation of foreign exchange trades.
The British bank meanwhile recently launched plans to shrink its investment bank and to axe 19,000 jobs across the entire group in the next two years.