He was one of the most colorful characters to emerge from the financial boom and bust. Rich Richie is a name so perfect for a wealthy, high-profile investment banker that you wouldn’t be able to make it up – he even once described himself as “the craziest man on the planet”.

But unlike many who fell out of favor after the banking crisis and promptly disappeared, Richie may still have a chance to re-establish himself as a king at City.

The ardent horse racing fanatic, whose stable included ‘Champagne Fever’ and the ironically-titled ‘Fat Cat in the Hat’, was a leading member of the motley crew of bankers at the top of Barclays in the run-up to the financial crisis. Among his colleagues at the time were former CEO Bob Diamond and rainmaker Roger Jenkins, both of whom became prominent figures in the world of finance.

‘Audacious’: Passionate horse racing fan Rich Ritchie ran Barclays’ investment banking division

Memories of those heady, high-octane years were stirred this weekend when Barclays was fined £50m over fees paid to Qatari investors for taking part in raising capital during the crisis. The bank, which is challenging the penalty, has also been accused by regulators of “recklessness” and a “lack of good faith”.

It’s an awkward time for Richie as he tries to return to City.

Although he was not one of the four former Barclays bankers to face criminal charges in the Qatar case, the fine is an unwelcome reminder of the controversy that engulfed his former employer.

Once a Barclays star, US-born Ritchie ran its investment bank. He was a key lieutenant of Diamond, another charismatic American.

The pair reunited in 2017 when Diamond took over from respected stockbroker Panmure Gordon. Ritchie became chief executive three years later and, having returned Panmure to profitability, is now eyeing a takeover of financial consultancy FinnCap.

The deal would combine one of the oldest stockbrokers in the Square Mile – Panmure Gordon was founded in 1876 – with one of the newest. FinnCap was established in 2007 and is the only City broker led by a woman, Sam Smith.

The planned move has lifted some of the gloom that has enveloped the Square Mile as other deals dry up and job losses mount.

Negotiations are at an early stage. FinnCap founder Smith, who stepped down from running the business last month but owns a 10 per cent stake in the firm, said last week that Panmure had not yet approached her.

Senior sources who have worked with Ritchie say his interest in FinnCap shows he has big ambitions for the firm.

“I don’t think he’s doing it for ego,” one source said. “The market has been pretty harsh on him and I think he wants to prove himself by doing good deals and turning Panmure into something big.”

Richie is not the only one looking to discover himself in Panmure. The firm recently hired Stephen Jones, another former Barclays employee, as head of investment banking.

Jones resigned from trade lobby group UK Finance after making disparaging and sexist remarks about financier Amanda Staveley, co-owner of Newcastle United.

Staveley lost a case against Barclays last year, claiming her firm was denied a fee because its Abu Dhabi client was offered a less favorable deal than the Qataris during a controversial 2008 Middle East bailout.

Jones apologized for his comments.

Key stake: Former FinnCap boss Sam Smith

Key stake: Former FinnCap boss Sam Smith

With Diamond, Ritchie was instrumental in buying bankrupt rival Lehman Brothers for a song in the midst of the financial crisis in what was described as the “deal of the century.”

But when Diamond was forced out of Barclays in 2012 following the interest rate rigging scandal, Ritchie soon followed.

The former banker has a penchant for loud plaid suits with windowpanes and hats, perhaps to disguise his skinny complexion. Races are known to feature his signature mullet, which extends below the rim of his roar.

His pink and green polka dot owner was often seen in the winner’s enclosure at the Cheltenham Festival, and he and his wife, Suzanne, took a private jet to Ireland every weekend to watch their horses.

A senior City source added: “Rich really has that cheeky American style. But in reality he is a very shrewd person. People at Barclays loved working for him. And everyone at Panmure Gordon loves working for him. They have created an enviable culture.”

Behind the bubbly exterior, however, he is said to be “quite shy when it comes to his own life.”

“It’s only in the racing papers where he wants to be on the front page,” another source said.

Supporters say Richie is unfairly tarnished by his relationship with Diamond. “If you talk to anyone, including regulators, Rich will not be perceived in a negative light. Diamond does, but because of their working relationship, the two are linked and tend to be tarred with the same brush.”

“Maybe he has a chip on his shoulder, but I don’t think that’s a bad thing in business. A chip on your shoulder means you have something to prove.”

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