One of Barclays' top bankers most closely associated with the firm's controversial tax avoidance schemes is leaving as part of a wide-ranging management reshuffle.
The departure of Iain Abrahams, best known for his role at the bank's what was known as "structured capital markets" unit, was revealed in an internal memo on regional management changes sent by Rich Ricci, boss of Barclays' investment banking arm, to its 23,000 staff.
The structured capital markets business was once one of the bank's most lucrative. It has been estimated that it once generated more than two-thirds of Barclays' investment banking profits. Its activities have also been viewed as damaging to Barclays' corporate reputation.
In a presentation to investors last month Ricci said he intended "to take a fresh look to see if there are products and services in which … we no longer deem it appropriate to do business, regardless of financial return."
He added that "elements of our tax advisory business" that had generated "negative media and political attention" would be subject to particular scrutiny.
At the same time, the new Barclays group chief executive promised that all operations would in future be "screened for reputational impact".
Abrahams joined the investment banking arm of Barclays in 1995 and was widely regarded as the brains behind some of the bank's complex – but legal – tax avoidance plans, some of which were highlighted by the Guardian in 2009.
Abrahams was promoted to become executive vice chairman of Barclays last year, when Bob Diamond was still chief executive. But Diamond was ousted in July after the furore over the £290m Libor rigging scandal. Ricci was left in sole charge of the investment bank after Jerry del Missier, his long-time co-head, also quit as a result of the Libor scandal.
Abrahams had moved from the investment bank — which was known as Barclays Capital or BarCap until this year — to the head office to work with finance director Chris Lucas on "group treasury and group tax matters". He was also responsible for untangling "legacy real-estate positions". Abrahams is set to leave the bank at the end of the year.
The investment bank is now being subjected to a review — known internally as Project Mango — to assess if businesses are ethically sound as well as profitable. Ricci is expected to complete the project review next month.
Barclays insisted that Abrahams' departure was unrelated to the closure of business units now regarded as unethical.
Ricci said in his memo that the "organisational changes will position the firm best to take advantage of the changing market landscape, to continue delivering outstanding value to our clients, and to become the 'go-to' bank for all our stakeholders".
Ricci thanked Abrahams "for his insight and advice over many years of leadership at Barclays".
Jenkins is overhauling the structure and culture of Barclays in the wake of the Libor scandal. The bank had been described by the top City regulator as having a "culture of gaming, and gaming us". His plans to rebuild Barclays' reputation – known as Project Transform – aim to make Barclays the "go-to" bank .
In Ricci's memo to staff — which announced a streamlining of the top jobs in the investment bank — he asked staff to remain focused.
"Throughout the summer, you have done an outstanding job of staying focused on clients …
"Let's keep that focus for the rest of the year, and demonstrate through our actions why we are one of the world's premier corporate and investment banks," Ricci said.
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