HSBC will not decide whether to shift its head office out of London until 2015 because of uncertainties caused by the Independent Commission on Banking and new European rules.
Douglas Flint told MPs and peers examining the so-called Vickers proposals that a review – scheduled for 2011 – would be put on hold until it was clearer where the "ringfence" between high street banks and investment banking would lie.
Questioned on the day HSBC admitted it could face a fine of at least $1.5bn on money-laundering offences in the US, Flint said that banks had "lost our right to self-determination" because of errors that had been made in the past.
Antony Jenkins, the new boss of Barclays, said the ringfence should not restrict lending and that the split between the two operations could take place before 2019 if there was more clarity on the rules.
In its submission to the committee, Barclays expressed concern that the reforms being proposed by the government "may not be designed with the flexibility which was intended by the ICB and may therefore not effectively respond to the differing structures and risk profiles of each banks.
"Barclays wishes to begin implementation at the earliest possible stage and seeks the certainty required to do so. Implementation can be pursued without that certainty but at the risk of creating significant additional cost to the economy."
Jenkins fought back against a suggestion by Andrew Tyrie MP that Barclays was reluctant to implement the changes, saying thatit was pragmatically co-operating with the changes required.
Along with Ana Botin, who runs Santander in the UK, the bankers were asked whether their operations were too big to manage, particularly in the light of the problems faced by HSBC with US regulators.
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