Barclays cuts up to 12,000 jobs as scandal-ridden bank presses ahead with culture change

Barclays, Britain's second-biggest bank in terms of assets, is to slash up to 12,000 jobs as it seeks to change its corporate culture following a string of scandals.

But even as the reductions were announced Tuesday, Barclays set aside more money for bonuses. The bonus pool rose by 210 million pounds in 2013 — a move Chief Executive Antony Jenkins defended despite the fact the bank's performance worsened in the fourth quarter.

The cuts include 400 jobs in Barclays' investment division, one of the targets of Jenkins' plan to transform the bank into a more ethical institution after its involvement in the Libor loan rate-rigging scandal.

The total staff reduction from a workforce of 140,000 is part of a plan to reduce costs to 16.8 billion by 2015.

"At Barclays, we believe in paying for performance and paying competitively," he said. "Ensuring that we have the right people in the right roles serving our customers and clients effectively in a highly competitive global environment is vital to our ability to generate sustainable shareholder returns."

The news over the job cuts came as the bank revealed that its net loss widened to 642 million pounds ($1.1 billion) in the fourth quarter, from 589 million pounds a year earlier. The results showed that operating expenses increased by 1.1 billion pounds during the period, including 468 million pounds for "Project Transform," Jenkins' flagship culture change effort.

Jenkins said the bank had "more work to do" as part of its overhaul, but unions attacked the bonus increase at a time of job cuts.

"The culture change the bank promised will be less than skin-deep if those at the top still Hoover up obscene amounts of money while workers in call centers and branches struggle by on low wages and face the persistent pressure of job insecurity," said Dominic Hook, Unite's national officer.