Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Its all Greed to me

Mahatma Ghandi said, "Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man greed" and as I compile yet another letter for the Financial Ombudsman, I cannot help wondering if it will be HBOS’s overvaluation of my house in May 2006 that finally turns my case against them to my advantage. Encouraged by news I may finally have found legal representation, I can only hope my complaint will ultimately reveal the lengths to which HBOS have gone to in an effort to feed their own avarice.
While this week even Russian prime minister Vladimir Putin attributes his country’s economic growth to both its large oil and gas reserves and its wealth “of a talented, creative, well trained and educated people” whom he regards as “an enormous treasure", I am left resisting thoughts that in the UK the our own government along with the Financial Ombudsman’s Service are merely facades for organisations established to mute the cries of the very same talented, creative, well trained and educated British people who are now the fallout victims of a global economic crisis. With both the government and our regulators either powerless or unwilling to intervene, the battle for democracy remains the individuals fight and it rages on through protest against the billionaires and corporations intent on reshaping politics to suit their own interests.
While officials talk of a future which embraces debt haircuts and a return to real values, real assets and real jobs, those of us struggling in the wake of the global economic crisis are faced with no assets, no jobs and government values which only support a desire to remain in office, leaving the perpetrators of widespread irresponsible banking, and in some cases out and out fraud, thinking they deserve a medal if their waive obscene banking bonuses despite falling profits and share prices.  As one reporter said, “These vastly pampered moguls really believe they are worth the money, and cannot comprehend why most of the rest of us so passionately hold them in contempt.”

In contrast I, along with the Greeks, wait with  renewed trepidation for the impact haircuts, bailouts and austerity measures will deliver to a land which remains without promise and without a reasonable future for many of our children. I can only hope that, not unlike the USA’s Citibank who wrongfully endorsed mortgages in the lead up to the global economic crisis and now “admits, acknowledges, and accepts responsibility” for passing on bad loans, HBOS will also be required to stomp up the money for a short back and sides for me and in so doing free my family from an untenable financial future which is set to last for the rest of my life.

A Native American grandfather talking to his young grandson tells the boy he has two wolves inside of him struggling with each other. The first is the wolf of peace, love and kindness. The other wolf is fear, greed and hatred. "Which wolf will win, grandfather?" asks the young boy. "Which ever one I feed," is the reply.
I am pleased to report both I and Mervyn King, Governor of the Bank of England believe the time has come to stop feeding the greedy wolves because, in the words of Aristotle, “Poverty requires much while avarice requires everything” and we simply can not afford it.

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

More reasons to be cheerful

Margaret Thatcher once said, “I always cheer up immensely if an attack is particularly wounding because I think, well, if they attack one personally, it means they have not a single political argument left.”  Hoping there is rationale to this argument, I put aside the financial ombudsman’s adjudicator’s judgemental and derogatory comments in an effort to relax with my children over half term. Distancing myself from the onslaught in this way has enabled me to reflect on my campaign to rebuild my family’s life and there is a lot for which I am most grateful.

In October 2008 my world fell apart when I discovered my husband had borrowed well beyond our means in a desperate bid to complete a building project before the property market went into recession. Our troubles were compounded by the news our business bank, Heritable, was in administration leaving us in an untenable position on every front.


In December 2011 Heritable Bank formally released my husband and I from a shortfall obligation of £210,000 and in so doing presented me with a beautifully packaged Christmas gift of unbridled relief. I remain eternally grateful to those within Heritable Bank who chose to use empathy and compassion when considering the solution to our predicament.

In October 2008 when I realised there was also £446,000 of credit card debt and no means with which to repay it, I was distraught to be party to this insurmountable sum and imagined it would be with us forever.


Today, £40,000 is all that remains as the balance has either been written off or deemed not persuable by our creditors. Those who elected debt forgiveness as a way forward for us offered it with words of good will for both our family and our future. I remain truly grateful for their pragmatic approach to our financial problems.

In October 2008 I was horrified to find our family home was the subject of a possession order and further panicked to discover without financial references it was impossible to secure a tenancy on a rented house through the normal channels. Fearing for my children’s future and desperate to remain in a familiar location amongst friends and family I tried everything I could think of but without success.


In December 2008, I received a phone call from a gentleman who, having originally declined my request for accommodation, wished to reconsider our application on the basis of a character reference instead of a financial one. In January 2009 we moved into a homely farmhouse where we have remained ever since.  By finding an innovative solution to our housing needs our landlords provided us with sanctuary when others wouldn’t. For this ongoing act of kindness I am truly appreciative.

In October 2008, finding ourselves bereft of both income and assets we were not only unable to pay the school fees but were already a term behind. Believing my children would never again enjoy a private education I contacted the school to advise them of our position with the heaviest of hearts.


Instead of being shown the door, not only was my eldest son awarded a full bursary but I was also given advice on how to secure two further awards for my younger children. In Feb 2012 thanks to the guidance of the Headmaster’s and their respective bursars I am proud to say my daughter has now received an academic award for an independent secondary school and my youngest son has been earmarked for a sports scholarship. I am indebted to the people who guided me through this emotive process with my children’s best interests in their hearts and a genuine understanding for our difficulties.


On lodging my HBOS complaint with the Financial Ombudsman’s Services in April 2010 I mistakenly believed help would be on hand to communicate effectively with my persecutors and sheild me from further episodes of personal attack. Although FOS intervention quickly resulted in the removal of HBOS’s Merrils Ede henchmen from my case, more recent letters from my adjudicator have revealed an impatient disinterest combined with a sizeable ration of personal distaste. Attitude of this nature, from a financial regulator appointed to my case, left me feeling both despondent and completely disarmed.


Following my complaint to the FOS’s Chief Executive, I was contacted by their complaints department who not only expressed remorse at the way in which I had been dealt with by their adjudicator but also revealed HBOS had been unresponsive to the FOS’s requests concerning my case and in so doing may well forgoe the opportunity to have their say. Futhermore my complaint is to be fast-tracked to avoid current case lead times of fourteen months and in addition I am also permitted to include my recent findings on the subject of HBOS’s over-valuation of my home. Being treated with respect and understanding over the pain-staking and painful process of bringing HBOS to account has not only lifted my spirits but given me the invaluable gift of a hope and for this I am immeasurably grateful.

William Arthur Ward, author, pastor and teacher believed we should all, “do more than belong, participate; do more than care, help; do more than believe, practice; do more than forgive, forget; do more than dream, work” and it is clear, from my half term reflections, with the exception of HBOS and my ombudsman's ajudicator, most people who have touched my life during these difficult years have chosen to live and work by a similar code to that endorsed by William Ward. It is to these  people I wish to extend my whole hearted thanks.

Sunday, 12 February 2012

Girl Power

In the words of Groucho Marx, “The secret of life is honesty and fair dealing. If you can fake that, you’ve got it made” and with this in mind I am left wondering whether David Cameron is discovering or faking the secret of life when he speaks of the benefits of corporate equality and the need for more women in the boardroom as his ready remedy for the current economic crisis.

While I whole heartedly agree honesty and fair dealing, regardless of gender, should be a motivation for us all, I struggle to understand how Cameron plans to instigate a shift in age old corporate habits to ensure women get more top industry jobs when he remains unable to implement a shift in either policy or legislation which meaningfully takes to task the perpetrators of banking fraud or makes them accountable for their crimes against the economy.

Little more than one hundred years ago women fought for sound policy and impartial justice for all.  A century later however, it is not just women who are suffering the consequences of discrimination, this time by government backed banking recklessness and unbridled favoritism, when it comes to arrears solutions and debt forgiveness for individuals.

Although I applaud the principal of a meritocracy which takes no heed of gender, the chance of success will remain limited if our government appointed regulators continue to support employers like HBOS who openly declare they have no obligation to discuss lending matters with married women if they have already discussed them with their husbands.  I cannot imagine this Lloyds TSB Group owned, taxpayer supported corporation will be one to embrace a louder female executive voice on the board or anywhere else if my own experience is anything to go by.

For me it is Kishore Mahbubani not David Cameron who explains who will be guiding our politics towards economic recovery when he says,

"The simplest way of understanding the virtues of meritocracy is to ask the question: why is Brazil a soccer superpower and an economic middle power? The answer is that when it looks for soccer talent, it searches for it in all sectors of the population, from upper classes to the slums. A boy from the slums is not discriminated against if he has soccer talent. But in the economic field, Brazil looks for talent in a far smaller base of the population, primarily the upper and middle classes."

I strongly suspect any vision for economic recovery is destined to suffer the mediocre results of the Brazilian economic field if it continues to remains so deeply entrenched in the old boy network it is unable to pay anything but lip service to accessing the untapped potential of womankind from either the upper middle class or anywhere else for that matter.  However, in the event this is not the case and more women do find their way into high places with David Cameron’s help, I can only hope their effectiveness might bode well for those of us who have been discriminated against and defrauded out of our financial futures at the hands of banks like HBOS. If not, judging by the number of comments attached to articles on this subject, Cameron’s words have made a high profile and debatable headline even if, like Groucho Marx’s suggests, the speaker has merely mastered the art of faking it.

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Dark Knights and Hoods

Evangelist Billy Graham said, “There is nothing wrong with men possessing riches. The wrong comes when riches possess men” and hearing that former HBOS executive Peter Cumming’s corporate lending portfolio was something of an Aladdin’s cave, I can see how tantalising the promise of such riches must have been; especially to those who were ignorant of the fraudulent methods employed to achieve them. For those who agreed to practise the dark art of perpetuating “the get rich quick” myth on the balance sheets, I have no doubt the power that accompanied such lucrative returns was both all consuming and intoxicating.

Still victimised by the consequences of the ongoing banking gluttony, I often speculate as to how HBOS originally portrayed my own residential mortgage in April 2006 when an £790,000 advance was secured against my home based on what I now believe was a grossly inflated valuation of £925,000. It  has been no surprise to find HBOS' continued nonchalant attitude has persisted and precluded me from all discussions regarding this mortgage from the outset until the moment I contacted them about our financial circumstances in October 2008. Now I am even more curious to know how my unrecoverable £217,000 shortfall is being recorded in their loan book and explained considering it represents a nose dive of approximately 30% against their in house valuation only three years earlier and remains completely unrecoverable.

However, with all eyes currently on who will or won’t take a slice of the millions set aside for bankers bonuses this year and increasing public interest in who should be next to follow Fred Goodwin into his Knighthood free status, I cannot imagine anyone within HBOS or the FOS are wondering if the vast amount of HBOS debt that continues to be written off every day by Lloyds TSB might ever include a residential shortfall which has left me standing on a financial precipice for years. Nor do I delude myself any consideration by the FSA has been given as to whether or not my unrecoverable loan is still propping up HBOS balance sheets as a fictitious asset on which to pay executive bonuses or instead it is being used to perpetuate another boardroom driven myth that lurks in shady recesses supported by negative accountability for financial crimes against everyone but the HBOS executives themselves.

Forever presented with antidotes to our economic health which continue to favour the corporate along with solutions limited to toothless acts of regulation designed to placate rather than resolve, I cannot comprehend why, to date, no government initiative or banking reform has focused on a reprieve for the individual victims who, like me, remain in purgatory as a direct result of the well documented fraudulence, unadulterated greed and widespread corporate dishonesty of sociopathic CEOs, Banksters and their Hoods.

In the words of Abraham Lincoln, “We the people are the rightful masters of both Congress and the courts, not to overthrow the Constitution but to overthrow the men who pervert the Constitution” however, despite an economic crisis of global proportions, those who cruelly perverted the course of both my financial and family life, along with the lives of thousands of others like me, are not only at liberty to bully and persecute their victims without restraint but, thanks to David Cameron’s Christian principals of forgiveness and the captured policies of his regulators, they remain free to pervert any chance of a morally sound outcome for the individual.