News & Politics

Bankers on a Binge

Five bankers from Barclay's of London recently got fired after trying to stick their company with a $62,580 tab for one night of expensive dinner and wine.
They came, they saw...they drank. And drank, and drank, and drank.

These were not frat boys on a weekend binge in New Orleans, but six investment bankers with the very prim and proper Barclay's of London. They went out to dinner at Pétrus, one of the city's poshest restaurants, with a feeling of quiet luxury and such gourmet entrees as roast breast of Anjou pigeon on a parsnip galette.

The Barclay's Six ate, and ate well, but they had come to celebrate a deal, so they treated themselves first to six glasses of champagne, then to a fine wine. The bottle of 1984 Montachet was a bit pricey at $2,000 -- but, hey, these were hot shot bankers from Barclay's equity derivatives division, so they're not going to let money stand in the way of good ego massage on the day of a deal.

Then, something snapped, and the egos escalated. They got into the exquisite Bordeaux from Château Pétrus, starting with a 1945 vintage for $13,400. Ooooo, they declared as they sipped it, very fine. So they moved on to a bottle of the the 1946 vintage, costing them $16,500. Then they went for the trifecta, ordering the 1947 Château Pétrus for $17,500. Finally, they kicked back with a bottle of 100-year old Château d'Yquem dessert wine, for only $13,100. Total wine tab: $62,580.

The restaurant owner was so thrilled that he comped the food bill for the wine swilling sextet. Less thrilled was Barclay's top brass, which noted that the banking business is in a slump, thousands of employees have been fired, and new austerity measures had only recently been imposed. All six were reprimanded, and five were fired when they later tried to sneak their tab onto the bank's expense accounts.

This is Jim Hightower saying ... I guess the lesson here is that you can take a banker out of a boom, but you just can't take the boom out of a banker.