Sunday, 30 December 2012

All Sants' Day

Son in law of Islamic prophet Mohammed and first male convert to Islam, Ali ibn Abi Talib once said, “One who acquires power cannot avoid favouritism” and in spite of four years of public outrage over the impotence of the UK’s regulators and a tumultuous term at the helm of the Financial Services Authority, for former banker and recently retired chief executive of the FSA (2007-2012), these ancient words have proved wholly true.

Infamously accused by MP’s of being asleep at the wheel at the height of the UK’s bank bailouts, for Hector Sants 2012 has been a remarkably good year. With an annual pay package rumoured to be worth a comfortable three million pounds for a regulatory position at Barclays and a knighthood coming his way in the New Year it is extremely hard to marry his current good fortune with a track record which found him napping while the UK’s banksters reaped havoc with the lives of everyone but their own. As a direct result of the FSA’s negligence, countless people have lost their homes, their livelihoods and their financial futures and aside from those who have been tricked by the banks into purchasing PPI, the majority have received no restitution for losses which occurred because the FSA, under the guidance of Hector Sant, chose not to,
  • Regulate responsibly
  • Prosecute banking criminality
  • Protect the banks customers
The banks Hector Sants regulated,
  • Fraudulently sold unsuitable products to their customer to increase their profits
  • Manipulated Libor rates to serve their own interests and camouflage their exposure to risk
  • Disguised their flawed loan books and sold them as blue chip low risk investments to negate their losses
  • Insured themselves against a property crash they knowingly created
Hector Sant did little to stop them. 

I can only concluded that the favours of the powerful heading Hector Sants' way over the coming months can only be for Hector Sants' services to banksters and not banking. Speaking as a victim of the notorious Halifax Bank of Scotland who has unsuccessfully fought for the last four years to secure the assistance of both the FSA and the FOS in my mortgage mis-selling case, the decision to honour individuals whose actions were pivotal to onset of the banking crisis only serves to illustrate how these failure continue to be rewarded leaving the rest of us to pay the price of the financial sector’s avarice.

Ali ibn Abu Talib also said,“As long as fortune is favouring you, your defects will remain covered” and if the New Years honours list is an accurate measure of policy, it seems papering over the the cracks remains very much the order of the day. 

Little wonder the banksters believe they are above the law.

Friday, 28 December 2012

Whitewash and Christmas

Former United States Presidential Candidate, three times governor of Colorado and lawyer, Richard Lamm, once said, “Christmas is a time when kids tell adults what they want and adults pay for it. Deficits are when adults tell the government what they want and their kids pay for it” yet despite four long years in the grips of a global financial crisis it remains an unwelcome fact that both adults and kids are still paying the price of a banking crisis deficit which lined our banksters pockets with millions while their regulators condoned and excuse them.

During the past year we have been encouraged to believe 2012 was to be the year in which regulation and banking reform would finally make a difference.

“CEO’s are ultimately accountable for the way their staff are incentivised, so we expect them to take a real interest in fixing this [and] we have made sure the firms where we found failings are fixing their incentive schemes, improving governance and controls and, in the worst cases, checking past sales to identify if mis-selling has occurred.”

“The occupy movement has been successful in its efforts to popularise the problems of the global financial system for one simple reason : they are right” and “policy makers like me will need [their] support in delivering radical change” while this “quiet but unmistakable leaf is being turned” by our bankers.

     What I want to see is [banking reform] recommendations made quickly so that we can get on and implement them, which is, I think what the people of this country want to see".
    However, despite encouraging words, the talk of 2012  proved cheap and instead of our banking fraternity calculating the prospects of repaying their ill gotten gains, it is only EU threats to cap their remunerations to a modest couple of million which have captured their undivided attention while, in complete contrast to the lifestyle afforded the favored few who waged economic war on the masses, the victims of their banking crimes continue to endure,

  • Widespread and economically damaging unemployment  
  • Austerity measures which have cost the average family more than twenty pounds a week
  • Possession order applications against UK homes filed, on average, every two and half minutes

“ It takes time to recover and we've got to do more. We’re going to do more. We’re going to roll up our sleeves and do everything possible to get business going in Britain, to get housing going, to get jobs going.”

However, if Andrew Bailey, chief executive designate of the Prudential Regulatory Authority’s words are to be believed, nothing could be further from the truth. Without a shadow of a doubt it appears,
  •    Some banks are just too big to fail
  •    Some banks are just too big to jail

And unlike the rest of society,

  •    Some bankers enjoy carte blanche to operate outside the law 

Benjamin Franklin once said, “A good conscience is a continual Christmas” and while I cannot pretend my four years of fighting and two years of complaining to the FOS about HBOS  is in any way reminiscent of an eternal Christmas, I cannot help but wonder how those responsible for the avarice and arrogance which brought about levels of widespread hardship likened only to that of a world war have, despite all corporate, governmental and regulatory attempts to whitewash their crimes, enjoyed the festive traditions of proffering goodwill to all men or the peace of a good conscience during the fourth Christmas of this ongoing economic crisis.

Thursday, 13 December 2012

Delusions and Grandeur

Fifth century teacher, Buddhist monk and patriarch Bodhidharma once said, “The ignorant mind with its infinite afflictions, passions and evils is rooted in three poisons; greed, anger and delusion. Yet despite sixteen centuries of “progress” it is evident from the Parliamentary Banking Commission’s recent and lengthy interrogations these attributes have played a pivotal role in the birth of a UK banking crisis from which the Halifax Bank of Scotland has emerged as one of its most disreputable players.

Teetering on the brink of collapse in 2008, this once well thought of three hundred year old bank’s undisclosed toxic loan book was not only threatening its own survival but, after its Lloyds Banking Group takeover in January 2009, was the reason the tax payer was required to fund a twenty billion pound bailout and shareholders lost forty million pounds in share values. Formerly Britain safest bank, Lloyds is now 41% taxpayer owned while the overall financial impact of the banking crisis has been likened to that of the Second World War and is likely to cost the taxpayer in excess of sixty billion. Some say it will take as much as thirty eight years for the UK to fully recover.

However, despite these catastrophic events, the key HBOS’s players in this economic nightmare remain determined not to shoulder their responsibilities and, aside from some long overdue valueless apologies, remain unprepared to admit a reign of unprecedented greed peppered with unadulterated delusions of grandeur have cost hundreds of thousands of people their homes, their livelihoods and their financial futures. Instead of offerings of truth and transparency the Parliamentary Banking Commission has been subject to a plethora of repetitive and evasive attempts to explain why, despite previously justifying their obscene levels of remuneration on the grounds of their huge burden of responsibility, the blame for HBOS’s failure and the subsequent losses suffered by their shareholders, their customers and the taxpayer, should not rest with them.

Washing his hands of any knowledge of the “innovative” lending products and high risk strategies which brought Halifax Bank of Scotland to its knees, former 2001-2008 Chairman Lord Stevenson told MP’s his £815,000 part time role at HBOS along with his limited knowledge of banking left him ignorant of the “errors” which led to HBOS’s collapse. Conveniently forgetting he had once bragged to the FSA, in writing, that he “regards himself as a knowledgeable and well briefed” chairman who had confidence in HBOS’s “safe” position a matter of months before its near demise, did nothing to encourage this life peer who once said he would be cross if he was ever thought “dim”, to admit his culpability. 

Equally immersed in his own spin, HBOS deputy chairman (2001- 2009) Sir Ron Garrick, who, in exchange for three ten hour meetings annually over nine years, enjoyed fees totaling 1.322 million pounds, told MP's it was "by far and away the best board he had ever sat on". Convinced of both its transparency and integrity he chose to turn either a blind or ignorant eye to the fact that during his chairmanship 69% of the banks corporate loan book should never have been lent.

Repeatedly denying all knowledge of the FSA’s concerns over HBOS’s residential lending while endorsing the ridicule of those trying to abide by regulatory rules and infamously dismissing HBOS whistle blower Paul Moore in 2004, the former HBOS Chief Executive from 1999-2006 Sir James Crosby described the off loading of two thirds of his HBOS shares on his departure from the helm of his toxic sinking ship as simply balancing his portfolio. On top of the profits from this timely manoeuvre Crosby further profited from his failures with eight million pounds in bonuses and a£572,000 a year in pension.

With a general lack of banking experience as his excuse, Andy Hornby, (HBOS’s Chief Executive from 2006-2009) said,“ I bitterly regret that we did not foresee the possibility of wholesale markets closing for one whole year” and offered “his heartfelt apologies for what happen to HBOS”. However, even without the benefit of banking expertise, it is easy to see how empty these apologies are in the light of Paul Moore's warning to Hornby's predecessor James Crosby in 2004, that lending “money to people who have no jobs, no provable income and no assets” and then force feeding them products they don’t need inevitably impacts on the confidence of financial markets. Surely common sense dictated that sanctioning the launch of a another toxic product in the form of a residential mortgage product offering customers a 125% loan to value in November 2006 would be unlikely to aid market confidence or limit exposure to risk.

World renowned chess player, historian and author Henry Thomas Buckle once said, “Society prepares the crime, the criminal commits it. It is no surprised to learn those at HBOS’s helm when it neared collapse are still operating in “cloud cuckoo land”. Their denials only serve to highlight the unanswerable detachment they still enjoy from the billions in losses they socialized, the obscene rewards they were paid for failure and the consequences their delusions and greed have had on their victims. Speaking as one of the many whom HBOS chose to treat as cannon fodder, I can only wholeheartedly hope, one day very soon, the regulatory society which prepared these crimes will finally acquire the courage to regard those who commit them as criminals.

Friday, 7 December 2012

Priceless Principals

Fifteenth century Parisian nobleman and moralist author Francois de la Rochefoucauld, once said, “The glory of great men should always be measured by the means they have used to acquire it” and while the parliamentary commission on banking standards continue to haul HBOS’s infamous Lord Stevenson, Sir James Crosby and Andy Hornby over luke warm coals my own attentions have once again turned  to the lengthy process of compiling my overvaluation case against the Bank of Scotland.

Now in receipt of both the Financial Ombudsman Service's award of compensation for their mishandling of my case and their written assurances that my Bank of Scotland complaint will be, from now on, closely monitored throughout its journey towards a swift and fair conclusion,  I wrongly assumed it would be the Bank of Scotland themselves who would initially respond to my accusations of mis-selling. However, according to their most recent piece of correspondence it is to be Birmingham Midshires who are under instruction to take up the reins of my complaint and it is they who now wish me to outline my concerns and indicate to them what I would consider to be a favorable outcome.

A little shocked to find I am addressing yet another group of individuals in my quest for justice, I am even more surprised to discover that twenty one months after I first appealed to the FOS to investigate my complaint, and almost four years since I  originally complained to HBOS, it is not only my adversaries who have undergone a transformation but my own approach to our circumstances has altered too. Whereas once I would have been elated to receive a mere whisper of compassion and eternally grateful at the suggestion of a stay of execution, after four excruciating years in HBOS induced financial purgatory my broadening education of all things bankster leaves me with no plans to plead for debt forgiveness on compassionate grounds.  Instead I recently wrote the following in reply to Birmingham Midshires' request.

“You have asked me to give you an understanding of what a satisfactory outcome would be for me.  I have lost my home, my livelihood, my financial future and my health and because of HBOS’s actions I have been persecuted by debt collectors for four years.  This has resulted in PSTS for both my husband and I together with long standing depression, threats of suicide on my husband’s part and in my case the complete loss of every hair on my body.  My five children have had no alternative but to stand by and watch my husband and I crumble while HBOS have, for four very long years, showed no empathy, no understanding and would not even allow us to cover our mortgage payments with rental income to preserve our home for the future.  As you will now no doubt understand from what I have said, our losses are huge and have extended far beyond mere financial redress.

Given the above, what would you consider a ‘suitable outcome’?”

Francoise de la Rochefoucauld also said, “The principal point of cleverness is to know how to value things just as they deserve” and with this new found perspective firmly in mind I now await, with interest, Birmingham Midshires’ reply.

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Fruitless Endeavours

Within the Dialogues of Phaedrus, ancient Greek writer Plato once said, “Things are not always as they seem; the first appearance deceives many” and as I look back on yet another year of battling with the banks there appears to have been little to encourage me to believe my best endeavors have achieved anything of note.

Determined to remain informed on all things bankster while simultaneously fighting HBOS and LLoyds has been taxing enough without running a household of lodgers, cooking and cleaning for a family of five, twice weekly visiting two elderly relatives, Chairing the Friends and organizing upwards of half a dozen events at my children’s school.  Nevertheless, increasingly self  critical of both the content and the way in which I write my blog, each post has received unsparing hours of scrutiny before it has been released into the public domain in the vain hope that it will, in some small way, make a difference.

This year alone I have ,

  • Added a further thirty nine pieces to my blog roll only to acquire very few additional members as a result.
  • Signed up to follow 331 people via twitter, sent 1298 tweets only to find a mere handful wish to follow me in return
However despite former indications to the contrary, in some areas, I have also enjoyed some very welcome results.

Much to my delight and amazement I have,
  • Quadrupled the number of page views I regularly receive on my blog posts and now have in excess of 1500 a month
  • Exceeded 80 followers on twitter all of whom have discovered my blog themselves and chosen to follow me
  • Not only received £500 from the FOS's for their miss handling my case, but also received an offer of settlement via the FOS in respect of my LLoyds Banking Group ficticious payment complaint. As well as upholding my claim and awarding me a further £25.00 their investigative reports states they find Lloyds behaviour completely without "empathy or understanding for our circumstances".
In addition,
  • I have also received both a phone call and an email from someone within Lloyds Banking Group who, profusely apologetic, assures me he has not only taken ownership of my HBOS over valuation complaint but, in the light of its miss handling over the last twenty months, plans to both investigate and "deal with my concerns" swiftly.
Plato also says, “Everyone ought to bear patiently the results of his own conduct” and finally, after four long years of waiting without patience, the results of my own conduct appear, if I am not deceived, about to bear fruit.

Here's hoping it is not another sizable helping of prickly pears!


Thursday, 22 November 2012

Literature, Legacies and Legislation

American industrialist and pioneer of the assembly line process Henry Ford once said, “Speculation is only a word covering the manipulation of prices instead of the supply of goods and services” and with an ever lengthening list of criminal practices assembling on the global doorsteps of our errant bankers, it is easy to believe dubious business initiatives embracing a sales rather than service culture have been the modus operandi by which the banking elite have manipulated their way into a life of excess and affluence.

Yet, after decades of the exploitation of financial deregulation to secure profits at any price, CBI chief John Crickland is keen to point out now is not the time to seek payback for all those who have fallen foul of this relentless reign of economic plundering.  Instead he believes we should focus on how best to prevent this legacy of banking fraudulence from coming home to roost. Not only is he calling for legislation to place time limits on claimants who have been miss sold PPI but he also believes people who have suffered Libor related losses should be legislatively discouraged from bringing cases against the culprits for fear the costs of compensation will be impossible to deliver.

However, seemingly unperturbed by either lobbyists worries or recent reports that sixty six billion pounds of bank bailout debt is unlikely ever to be repaid, some of the very same individuals who condoned both Libor manipulation and the miss selling of ever increasing numbers of financial products are still, with the endorsement of their regulators and the law, misrepresenting their forty billion pound toxic loan books to disguise their losses while enjoying sizable rewards for failure. Furthermore, despite austerity led postponement of UK retirement dates along with reduced pension incomes (current and future) for the majority, these morally challenged individuals are also to have a comfortable share of a combined pension fund amounting to in excess of one hundred and four million pounds. Fortunately for them a sum of this magnitude will provide individual annuities of several hundred thousand pounds of indexed retirement income per year.

In contrast, all I can show for the past four years of endless communication with a bank which has already been fined 3.5 million pounds for the miss handling of 45% of its complaints, is £500 in compensation from the Financial Ombudsman for their own miss handling of my case and a half page letter from HBOS advising me they are finally about to investigate my miss sold mortgage.
However, if regulators remain adamant it is both difficult and inappropriate to prosecute banksters for their crimes and legislation continues to find ways to favor them above me, in the absence of resorting to getting those responsible round the throat and attempting to throttle the life out of them, I suspect it is will prove increasingly necessary for me to tweak my game.

To this end I plan to,

  • Contact Hilary Messer of RPW solicitors to explore the benefits of a mortgage miss selling class action
  • Speak to a mortgage miss selling claims firm to discuss both my eligibility and how best to quantify loss
  • Compile a list of "fictional" characters from the banking world on which to base my book.

Foundling father and third President of the United States Thomas Jefferson once said, “The glow of one warm thought is to me worth more than money” and despite enduring overwhelming frustration and a great deal of heartache at the hands of both the Halifax Bank of Scotland and the Financial Ombudsman Service, I must admit this last thought has left me feeling I know exactly what President Jefferson means.

Here's hoping some of my readers may be prepared to help me dish the dirt! 

Friday, 9 November 2012

Fat, Cats and the Cream

Albert Einstein once said, “Wire telegraph is like a very, very long cat, you pull its tail in New York and his head is meowing in Los Angeles. Radio operates in exactly the same way: you send signals here they receive them there. The only difference is that there is no cat” yet, despite almost one hundred years of technological advancement and much virtual cat tail pulling on my part I have, until this week, remained both impatient and noticeably void of any communication on the subject of my Halifax Bank of Scotland mortgage miss-selling case or my complaint sighting unfair practices within the Financial Ombudsman Service.

Regularly experiencing,firsthand, the lack of regulatory impetus which continues to halt the complaints progress for the individual, it has been no surprise to hear that not only are global financial reforms falling behind schedule but the larger banks have been given yet more time (some as late as 2019) to comply with new risk management regulation. In a climate where the UK's Treasury Select Committee are fearful that without their oversight the long awaited Financial Services Authority report into the collapse of HBOS may not otherwise be “fair and balanced” it is not difficult to imagine the individual will never be heard with the odds so grossly and unequally stacked against them.

Reports stating the UK’s corporate and banking elite are not only having a profitable and prosecution free recession but will also enjoy an average of 27% in pay increases this year only add to an over all sense of futility felt by those suffering the job losses and home repossessions as a direct result of widespread banking criminality and unlawful market manipulation. Far from reconciling the vast and ever increasing divide between those of us who have been forced to shoulder the consequences of economic terrorism and those who continue to turn it to their advantage, it is nigh on impossible to believe anyone but the cream of the FTSE elite can expect anything even close to economic justice or a comforting pre-Christmas windfall.

Further more, with the knowledge that some victims of PPI miss-selling waited almost two decades to secure redress for this multi billion pound act of corporately endorsed banking fraud while four long years having passed since Tony Boorman, the principal Financial Ombudsman in 2008, first told Channel Four several banks were under investigation for mortgage miss-selling, it has been nothing short of fanciful to hold hopes that endless hours of carefully researched communication will result in one individual’s anguish being either acknowledged or heard by anyone other than a few loyal FB friends and a modest number of Life after Debt Blog and Twitter followers.

However, this week nothing could be further from the truth. I am delighted to report, after years of fighting and writing, I have received,
  • Two hundred and forty five page views, twenty four comments, seventeen additional followers along with fifteen retweets all as a result of my Platitudes and Placations post

  •   A formal acknowledgement from the Financial Ombudsman Service stating that, after almost a whole year of waiting, my overvaluation complaint is finally being investigated by HBOS


  • A lengthy letter from the FOS team manager which fully investigates their dealings with me, “sincerely apologizes” (twice) for their “failings” in the handling of my case and ask me to accept £500 by way of compensation for the “distress and inconvenience” I have suffered.

Albert Einstein also said, “Reality is a mere illusion” and despite the impression that countless hours dedicated to stating my case had seemingly fallen on deaf ears, in reality, my very, very, long communication cat has been howling its head off. I only wish those who caused the "distress and inconvenience" could be made to pick up the bill instead of the long suffering taxpayer.

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Platitudes and Placation

Financial Times Chief Economics Commentator, Martin Wolf once said, “The conclusion to be drawn from [the Bank of England’s executive director for Financial Stability Andy] Haldane's work is that an out-of-control financial sector is eating out the modern market economy from inside, just as the larva of the spider wasp eats out the host in which it has been laid” and with mounting evidence to support claims that the FSA have neither the stomach nor the inclination to prosecute banking criminality, the best that victims of the UK’s banking crisis can expect from reform is a ring side seat for an endless round of regulatory wrist slapping.

Placated with promises of integrity and more customer focused business models, the FSA have allowed the individuals within the banking fraternity (whose greed cost hundreds of thousands of UK residents their livelihoods along with their homes) to escape the consequences of their actions with little more than,

·       and a marginally demeaning ban from working in the city

While retaining,

      ·        several very desirable residences,

      ·        a substantial asset based net worth
      ·        and very sizeable pensions

Despite amassing a great deal of this wealth by indulging in all sorts of elaborate chicanery-including the widespread abuse of structured investment vehicles, conduits, derivatives, securitizations and collateralized debt obligations, boost leverage, gaming the regulatory system and avoiding tax, the Peter Cummings(HBOS) and the Fred Goodwins (RBS) of this world are left to lick their meaningless wounds aggrieved at being singled out for FSA tokenism. In contrast, the victims of this banking plague of financial spider wasps are expected to suffer the blanket approach to asset stripping which followed the near collapse of our financial system and plunged the UK into four long years of economic crisis.

During this time,

       ·        UK home repossessions have averaged nearly 3000 a month
       ·        UK unemployment has risen to 2.53 million
       ·        And austerity led government cut backs in both the NHS and Benefits department continue to be hugely detrimental to the nations most vulnerable.

Yet with UK regulatory eyes seemingly fixed firmly on how best to help those who perpetrated a global financial crisis retain both their wealth, and in some cases their power without either party losing face, I fear there is little hope for those of us seeking sanctuary from the relentless pursuit of lenders who are intent on socializing their losses from the property crash they created.  It is, nevertheless, mildly encouraging to find limply legislated lip service has not been the only method by which some of the fraudulence of global banksters have been addressed.

In this month alone,

        ·        Former Anglo Irish Bank chairman and two of his senior executives are to be tried in a criminal court over banking irregularities which have cost the State 29 billion

.       ·        The United States Government has filed a fraud lawsuit against Bank of America Corporation alleging the bank cost taxpayers more than one billion in losses when they sold defective home loans to government backed mortgage companies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
        ·        US home owners launched a class action against banks who repossessed their homes following the calculated use of Libor manipulation to inflate mortgage repayments and affect default.

Scottish astronomer, academic and computer scientist William Samson once said, “A writer lives in a state of astonishment. Beneath any feeling he has of the good or evil of the world lies a deeper one of wonder at it all. To transmit that feeling, he writes” and while I do not deny I am regularly in a state of astonishment over the behavior of the UK's financial regulators, I cannot help but wonder how, despite widespread evidence of banking fraud and continued public outrage, banksters are slipping affluently off the hook into retirement, with the vast majority of their spoils in tact, to enjoy a life of elitist comfort completely Scot-free.

It is certainly not a future their victims can anticipate and this is reason, I write.

Friday, 19 October 2012

Guilt and Weakness

German born theoretical physicist, Albert Einstein, once said, “Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex and more violent. It takes a touch of genius, and a lot more courage, to move in the opposite direction” however when it comes to regulating our errant bankers or taking them to task for their crimes, it appears genius and courage are not to be called on. I am certain it is because of this that my dealings with the Financial Ombudsman Service continue to make little progress.

Following a full review of my file, a process which took a further three weeks, I am now told,

·        The FOS do not accept they are guilty of giving an unresponsive HBOS countless opportunities to discard my case on jurisdiction grounds whilst simultaneously hounding me for instant replies in order to be “fair to the business”.
·        The FOS do not accept they are guilty of unnecessarily asking me to collate my case in detail, despite declining it on grounds of jurisdiction after weeks of preparatory work, nineteen months later
·        The FOS do not accept they are guilty of favouring HBOS despite a period of nine months with no progress from the time I lodged my over-valuation complaint

However, in complete contrast to the tone of the majority of their letter I am also told,

·        The FOS sincerely apologise for their lack of diligence with regard to securing an HBOS response to my over valuation complaint. 

Mildly encouraged by this minor step forward yet resigned to the inevitability of endless waiting, I can only conclude the FOS's lack of impetus in this instance is not merely oversight due to unprecedented levels of complaints but is instead an endemic reluctance to tackle the UK's bankers and an clear indication of their discomfort at the prospect of unearthing another bankster miss-selling (or rather sub-prime overselling) scandal.  For this reason it is no surprise to hear,

With mounting evidence to suggest economic reform, financial regulation and banking prosecutions will amount to nothing more substantial than an after dinner speech, it seems the new chairman of the British Bankers Association, Sir Nigel Wicks, is correct in saying “we must all take personal responsibility for the restoration of trust in banking”. His words could not ring truer now that it is abundantly clear the restoration of trust in our bankers is to have nothing to do with the genius of our regulators and has even less to do with the courage of our Financial Ombudsman Service.

Albert Einstein also said, “Weakness of attitude becomes weakness of character” and I suspect this is precisely what errant bankers are counting on to escape prosecution for their crimes. I hasten to add weakness of attitude and weakness of character is not what the Halifax Bank of Scotland or the Financial Ombudsman Service can expect to encounter in their dealings with me.

Monday, 8 October 2012

Malice, Manipulation and Aforethought

American business magnet, investor and philanthropist Warren Buffet once said, “Economic medicine that was previously meted out by the cupful has recently been dispensed by the barrel. These once unthinkable dosages will almost certainly bring on unwelcome after-effects” and, as is the case with so many victims of the current global economic crisis, it seems unwelcome after-effects are precisely what those of us who have suffered at the hands of fraudulent banksters are expected to endure.

It is now fast approaching three weeks that I have been waiting for a response to my letter accusing the Financial Ombudsman Service of favoring Halifax Bank of Scotland in their investigative practices. It seems I am, along with numerous other victims of banking malfeasance, not only expected to swallow said "economic medicine" by the barrel but feel heartily reassured in the knowledge that the very same people who stripped us of our livelihoods and our homes have now, under the watchful eye of our regulators, kicked their culture of greed into touch and will henceforth be operating with our well being at the very core of their corporations.  Now pious and reformed after inadvertently relieving their customers and the global economy of trillions we, the voiceless general public, are urged to believe the following.

     ·        Rewriting the banking codes of conduct will protect us

     ·        Prosecuting banking fraud is neither desirable, practical or good for the economy


·        New legislation along with revised incentive packages will thwart any bankster’s fraudulent inclinations in the future.

However, if my personal experience of battling with the banks for the past four years is anything to go by, nothing could be further from the truth. In the real world customer well-being is definitely not paramount and irresponsible banking is unlikely to be a thing of the past when I am regularly told by financial regulators,

    ·        Flaunting banking codes of conduct are perfectly permissible as adherence to      them is optional

    ·        Prosecuting a bank is nigh on impossible because it is too difficult to prove intent

    ·        Duty of customer care is not a requirement in law

In the real world, a far off place banksters and their puppet regulators rarely visit,

·        Anglo Irish Bank’s “insane recklessness” not only contaminated the underwriting policy of fellow lenders but was pivotal to a property crash which lost millions of people their homes, their livelihoods, their pensions and in some cases their lives. Needless to say not one iota of reform or regulation has provided restitution for those who paid the price of a calculated manipulation of the property market for elitist personal gain.

In the real world,

·        Loyal Royal Bank of Scotland's commercial borrowers continue to fall victim of “knavish manoeuvres” expressly designed to hijack their assets. By shifting billions in commercial debt and concealing losses via balance sheet manipulation, RBS's bad loans and liabilities have been miraculously transformed into the assets CEO Stephen Hester so desperately needs to successfully implement his recovery programme.

In the real world,

Libor manipulation is not just inappropriate conduct which the banking industry and their regulators have been fully aware of from as early as 1990's , but a manipulative rouse to steal people's hard earned cash and escape unpunished to bask in the profits.

·   And, in the real world,   

·        HBOS are perfectly at liberty to willfully neglect their duty of care, over-sell a discounted, interest only mortgage secured against a family home they vastly overvalued, exclude me from all discussions from the outset, start repossession proceedings without making me aware the loan was in distress, ignore my offer of rental income to service the interest, force a sale which created a £217,000 shortfall and hound me for the re-imbursement of a deficit which came about as a direct result of their highly dubious business ethics and wanton recklessness.

Nineteenth century Civil war veteran and American political leader Robert Green Ingersol once said, “Happiness is not a reward-it is a consequence and suffering is not a punishment but a result” however, if those whose greed resulted in our suffering remains unpunished and regulators are increasingly happy to repackage captured reforms as a solution to an economic crisis which has left millions in financial purgatory, I suspect suffering is destined to be both the consequence and the result for a great many victims of banking criminality for the foreseeable future.

I sincerely hope I am wrong.