Bob Diamond
Ex-Barclays chief executive Bob Diamond can expect a call from parliament's banking inquiry (Reuters) Reuters

Critics slammed the UK government's proposed parliamentary inquiry into the banking industry and its practices, following Barclays' settlement with the FSA for its involvement in fixing one of the world's most important interest rates Libor, for being too narrow.

However, the UK Prime Minister David Cameron said Wednesday that the MPs and peers appointed to the committee will lead to a "swift and transparent investigation" into the probing of some of the country's most senior officials, as well as the Bank of England's (BoE) chiefs and some of the UK's largest banks' bosses.

Announced in parliament by Prime Minister David Cameron and the Chancellor George Osborne, the inquiry will look into how the banking industry operates and its "wider culture" and what allows scandals, such as the rigging of the London Interbank Offered Rate (Libor) and the mis-selling of derivatives, to go on unchallenged.

Osborne said the inquiry will cover the "transparency, conflicts of interest, culture and professional standards within the industry".

IBTimes UK takes a look at how the inquiry may pan out and who will be in the firing line of questioning.

Barclays and Libor

Primarily, the committee may choose to explore the circumstances and existing regulation that allowed for the Libor rate-fixing scandal to be possible to execute.

Barclays is the first bank to be officially exposed and settled for a record fine of £290m with UK and US regulators, for making and conspiring to submit false filings in its Libor rate.

The benchmark reference rates are used in euro, US dollar and British sterling over-the-counter (OTC) interest rate derivatives contracts and exchange traded interest rate contracts.

Until February 2011 the US dollar Libor panel consisted of 16 banks and the rate calculation for each maturity excluded the highest four and lowest four submissions.

An average of the remaining eight submissions was taken to produce the final published Libor.

At each bank, "submitters" file their daily Libor rates to the BBA.

At Noon, the BBA then publishes the rate, based on averages from submissions made by a number of banks selected by the BBA or EBF.

This is a central interest rate set from the rates banks report that they have been able to borrow from one another.

By misreporting the rate at which they can borrow from others, Barclays traders were trying to improve their trading positions.

Parliamentarians are likely to call the big Barclays hitters who have been involved in the investment side of the bank to try and get to the bottom of how this happened, why it happened, and what can be done to prevent it happening in the future.

The scandal has already scalped the bank's chief executive Bob Diamond and the chief operating officer Jerry del Missier, both whose careers at Barclays stem from the investment side that was caught manipulating rates.

Barclays' Memo: The Paul Tucker Note

On Tuesday, Barclays published a memo on its website of a phone conversation between the newly resigned CEO Bob Diamond and the BoE Deputy Governor Paul Tucker on 29 October 2008, which implies he was told to bring their reported Libor rate down - something against financial regulations.

Barclays chairman Marcus Agius said del Missier had given direct instructions to lower the Libor rate.

Undoubtedly, Agius will also be called.

While the FSA investigation found evidence of rate-fixing at Barclays before the October 2008 phone call between Tucker and Diamond, the BoE's Deputy Governor already faces serious questions as to if and why he told them to drop their reported Libor rate.

The BoE is due to take on sole regulation of the financial services industry, if the government's Finance Bill passes through parliament as expected.

The current row about Tucker's involvement in lowering Libor at Barclays threatens to undermine its new regulatory authority - and also raises questions about the Bank's attitude towards existing regulations fostered by governor Mervyn King.

Other big British banks are also being implicated in the Libor rate-fixing scandal, such as RBS.

According to some reports, up to 17 banks and 1 broker are being investigated by the FSA on the same accusations as those which saw Barclays handed the City of London's biggest ever fine.

Stephen Hester, boss of RBS which is 82 percent owned by taxpayers after a bailout during the financial crisis, will likely be called for a grilling on what happens at his bank.

Better yet, Fred "the shred" Goodwin, former boss of RBS in the lead up to the financial crisis, who helped drive his bank into the ground, costing taxpayers billions in a bailout, will also likely get hauled in front of parliament to see if there are any cobwebs in his banking closet.

Heads of the seventeen banks under scrutiny over alleged Libor fixing should also expect a call from Andrew Tyrie, the Tory MP leading the inquiry.

Labour, tripartite regulation, and 'senior Whitehall officials'

Barclays' memo on the call between Diamond and Tucker cites pressure on the Deputy Governor to get Libor rates lower from "senior Whitehall officials".

The hunt is now on for exactly who those Whitehall officials were in 2008, under the Labour government, with Gordon Brown as prime minister and Alistair Darling as chancellor.

David Cameron pledged that the inquiry will be given access to all of the files and documents it needs from the government and Treasury, and will be able to call ministers past and present to testify under oath.

These documents may give the clues required to reveal just who the senior Whitehall officials were piling on pressure to lower Libor rates - and leave those responsible in for a forensic dissecting by parliament.

Big questions also arise over Labour's tripartite regulatory system that allowed the financial crisis to rage so fiercely in the UK, and that has seen banking misdeeds - such as Libor fixing - go unquestioned for so long.

Labour split the financial regulatory powers between the Bank of England, Treasury, and FSA, leaving no single governing authority with the powers to govern the banking industry as a whole.

It has also emerged that the FSA has no criminal powers that would see those responsible for manipulating interest rates convicted for fraud.

While the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) is poring over the mass of evidence available, leading barristers have said that a criminal prosecution is unlikely.

Treasury officials and ministers from the last Labour government, including the current shadow chancellor Ed Balls who was economic secretary to the Treasury from 2006 to 2007, will face barbed questions on why they created a system that meant no financiers are prosecuted for what is blatantly fraudulent behaviour.

Bank of England's role in financial crisis

The BoE's role in the financial crisis is also likely to come under heavy scrutiny.

Mervyn King has hinted before at a mea culpa for not speaking out enough before the crisis, to warn that the irresponsible trading and reckless lending of leading banks that helped build the tower of dodgy finance that collapsed to the ground when the sub-prime mortgage bubble in the US popped.

King has said that he and others at the Bank of England saw the crisis coming. He will inevitably be asked why they did not do more to sound the alarm earlier or use what regulatory powers they had to help prevent it.

He has been accused in the past of being slow to react to unfolding crises, like that involving the collapse of Northern Rock in 2007, and he should have poured more liquidity into the economy sooner to help limit the effects of the credit crunch.

With the Bank set to once again take on responsibility for regulating banks, parliamentarians will want to know if it was King as an individual who did not do enough, or if the problem was systemic - and something that will need careful attention in the new Finance Bill.