A senior Bank of England (BoE) official has denied giving any hint to Barclays that it should manipulate reports of its borrowing costs.
Paul Tucker, the BoE's deputy governor, also told British MPs on the House of Commons Treasury Committee that no one in government had leaned on him to put pressure on Barclays to "lowball" its reporting.
Barclays has been fined $US453 million by US and British agencies for feeding false data that went into calculations of the London interbank offered rate (Libor), a key market index that influences the costs of a wide range of financial instruments, including home mortgages.
Tucker's testimony was significant in shedding further light on the rate-fixing scandal that shocked the financial world, and because it was Tucker's chance to give his version of a conversation with former Barclays CEO Bob Diamond on October 29, 2008.
Any hint that Tucker encouraged any false reporting - the conclusion some people drew from Diamond's version - could fatally undermine the BoE official's position as a leading candidate to succeed Mervyn King as governor next year.
As part of his evidence to committee last week, Diamond produced a memo saying Tucker had told him in a phone conversation "that while he was certain we (Barclays) did not need advice, that it did not always need to be the case that we appeared as high as we have recently".
Tucker said Diamond's account of events gave the wrong impression and that his conversation with the Barclays chief was "something along the lines of: 'Are you ensuring that you, the senior management of Barclays are following the day-to-day operations of your money market desk, your treasury; are you ensuring that they don't march you over the cliff inadvertently by giving signals that you need to pay up for funds'."
Treasury committee chairman Andrew Tyrie challenged Tucker about a meeting with bankers in November 2007 that Tucker chaired. The minutes recorded that "several group members thought that Libor fixings had been lower than actual traded interbank rates through the period of stress".
"This doesn't look good," Tyrie said, adding that the minute "appears to any reasonable person to be a clear indication of low-balling about which nothing was done".
However, Tucker said the meeting took a differenct interpretation: "Well, we thought it was a malfunctioning market, not a dishonest market."
Diamond last week gave his version of a conversation with Tucker about why Barclays was quoting higher rates than other banks.
His version raised questions about whether Tucker - then the Bank of England's executive director for markets - had in any way encouraged Barclays to cheat on its rate submissions.