State’s suit accuses Barclays of fraud

British banking and financial services firm Barclays misled large institutional investors and other clients by falsely telling them it was taking measures to protect them from predatory high-frequency traders, New York’s attorney general said Wednesday.

The allegations against Barclays were contained in a securities fraud lawsuit that Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced at a Manhattan news conference.

The complaint, filed in the state Supreme Court, portrays “a flagrant pattern of fraud, deception and dishonesty with Barclays clients and the investing public,” Schneiderman said.

In a statement, Barclays spokesman Mark Lane said the bank was cooperating with the attorney general. “We take these allegations very seriously. . . . The integrity of the market is a top priority at Barclays,” Lane said.

The lawsuit alleges Barclays, which has headquarters in London, deceived investors about its dark pool, an electronic trading operation intended to shield them from the high-frequency traders who use sophisticated computer programs to get early access to pending orders and other market-moving information. The bank promoted a service it claimed was a “surveillance” system that would identify and hold accountable “toxic,” “predatory” and “aggressive” traders, the lawsuit says.

A honeybee cleans its legs atop of a hive. Home Depot and other retailers plan to eliminate or limit neonicotinoid, a pesticide suspected of helping cause declines in honeybee populations. (Linda Davidson/THE WASHINGTON POST)

Instead, the service “was essentially a sham,” Schneiderman said. “Barclays has never prohibited any trader from participating in its dark pool, regardless of how predatory or aggressive its behavior was determined to be.”

The lawsuit asks the court to order Barclays to halt the behavior and pay unspecified damages.

— Associated Press

Stores to control pesticide that may harm honeybees

Home Depot and other American companies are working to eliminate or limit the use of a type of pesticide suspected of helping cause dramatic declines in honeybee populations needed to pollinate key crops, officials said Wednesday.

The moves include requiring suppliers to label any plants treated with neonicotinoid, or neonic, pesticides sold through home and garden stores.

Atlanta-based Home Depot, the world’s largest home improvement retailer, is requiring its suppliers to start such labeling by the fourth quarter of this year, said Ron Jarvis, the company’s vice president of merchandizing and sustainability. Home Depot is also running tests in several states to see if suppliers can eliminate neonics in their plant production without hurting plant health, he said.

Also on Wednesday, BJ’s Wholesale Club, a warehouse retailer with more than 200 locations along the East Coast, said it was asking all of its vendors to provide plants free of neonics by the end of this year or to label such products as requiring “caution around pollinators” such as bees.

At least 10 other smaller retailers, with locations in Minnesota, Colorado, Maryland and California, have announced plans to limit or eliminate neonics from plant products.

The class of pesticides known as neonics are sold by agrichemical companies to boost yields of staple crops such as corn. But the pesticides are also used widely on annual and perennial plants used in lawns and gardens.

— Reuters

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