Daily Mail – October 9, 2008
While the rest of the country struggles to come to terms with the financial crisis, a group of Barclays bankers have jetted off for a lavish banquet costing more than £500,000.
As British taxpayers faced up to a grim financial future, coupled with the fear of tax hikes following the government's bailout £500billion bailout package, a group of fatcat bosses from Barclays Wealth flew out to the luxurious Villa Erba, beside Lake Como in Italy yesterday for the all-expenses paid jaunt.
Invites alone for the bash are believed to have cost up to £3,000.
Over 300 guests will be wined, dined and entertained with an evening of opera before spending the night in the luxury surroundings of the exclusive Villa D'Este hotel.
These client bashes are real luxury affairs - no expense is spared', a source told the Sun newspaper.
'Given the current climate it's really got up everyone's noses that this one is going ahead.
'Hard-working Brits face losing their homes, but it seems these bankers don't care as long as they can sip chianti in Italy.
'The cost will be huge - talk about feasting while Rome burns.'
Despite staff admitting the annual conference "sent out the wrong message", a spokeswoman for Barclays Wealth defended the expensive trip.
'You can't stop doing business just because of the credit crunch', she said.
'This is not jolly people going to dinner, it's an educational seminar - and it's more important than ever to keep this kind of thing going in the credit crunch.'
This latest jaunt comes just a week after more than 100 staff from Barclays Private Equity enjoyed a sunshine break at a £1,800 a night hotel in the French Riviera.
A guest at the hotel said: 'They were lapping up five-star luxury and talking of their party night in Monte Carlo as if the banking industry was in rude health.
'It was a totally shameless display of extreme wealth at a time when millions back at home are struggling with debts.
'While youngsters can’t get mortgages and financial institutions are on the brink of bankruptcy, these overpaid bankers seemed not to have a care in the world.'
Last updated 12/10/2008