Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Fates and Futility

Democratic US senator and noted civil rights activist Robert F. Kennedy once said, “ First is the danger of futility: the belief there is nothing one man or one woman can do against the enormous array of the world’s ills-against misery, against ignorance, or injustice and violence. Yet many of the world’s great movements... have flowed from the work of a single man. A young monk began the Protest Reformation, a young general extended an empire from Macedonia to the borders of the earth, and a young woman reclaimed the territory of France. It was a young Italian explorer who discovered the New World and a 32 year old Thomas Jefferson who proclaimed that all men are created equal so, with these commendable achievements already in the bag, how hard can it be to bring a few bankers to task?

Deemed “woefully unsound” by MP Andrew Tyrie and the parliamentary commission on banking standards, one might easily assume shirking ones fiduciary duty, turning a blind eye to money laundering, manipulating Libor rates, hard selling inappropriate toxic products and cooking the books to maximise their remunerations  might prove sufficient to bring about the sternest of criminal charges. However, for a gang of HBOS untouchables, the consequence of wreaking havoc with the UK economy and leaving widespread hardship in their wake have been nothing if not “alternative” in their nature.

Indentified by the FSA as far back as 2003 as an“accident waiting to happen” and led by just a few high ranking individuals who chose to use ineffectual financial regulation, a gullible government and the most malleable of auditors to promote “growth at any price", the HBOS three road rough shod over all who stood in their way for many a year. Blinded by greed and self importance they chose to ignore reports of fraud and warnings of dangerously high levels of risk and instead bullied, threatened and dismissed those who spoke out. As a result their “colossal failures” have cost 921 million in fallen share values, 20 billion in tax payer bailouts, 35,000 in in-house job losses and the repossession of countless homes and small businesses.

To date the personal cost to those responsible has been nothing more than a smattering of token fines, some nominal sessions of naming and shaming and a sprinkling of bad press.

HBOS chairman Lord Dennis “cuckoo land” Stevenson, who enjoyed more than £815,000 per anum for a role he viewed as part time, was indignant he should be required to step down from his chairmanly duties despite being found to be either “deluded or dishonest” for the part he played in concealing HBOS’s imminent collapse. However, he has continued to enjoy a variety of roles in well remunerated employment within the financial services industry by miraculously side stepping a ban from holding a directorship or working in the city and does not currently face any criminal proceedings.

Former HBOS chief executive James Crosby (2004-2006), who infamously bred a culture of dismissal for those who opposed his risk management views, chose to return his knighthood for services to banking and, after much pressure, volunteered a reduction of 30% to his £572,000 indexed annual pension. However, the millions he reaped in HBOS share options (two thirds of which he sold just before the bank’s collapse) along with his equally sizable bonuses have remain unencumbered. After his HBOS departure, he was not only offered, and accepted, the deputy chairmanship of the FSA but took up a number of lucrative positions on various boards because, despite widespread public outrage, he too faced no ban or criminal charges.

Boardroom brawling HBOS Chief executive Andy Hornby (2006-2009), who may well have found “the die was cast and it was too late for him to make any significant change" to avoid disaster, not only managed to avoid financial forfeiture for concealing (with the help of his KPMG auditors) 47 billion in HBOS losses before their LLoyds takeover but also managed to benefit from a “change of control payment” on his departure. Paid for by the tax payers bailout, he took £251,000 in cash and 2051 shares on top of his salary, his pension contributions, his awards in lieu of pension and his redundancy payments. Since then he has enjoyed the most senior of roles with both Boots and Coral, without a whisper of prosecution over his HBOS conduct.

Gordon Brown confessed, "I should have done more to prevent the banking crisis," and David Cameron assures us he "will make sure the banking crisis will not happen again”. However, while Downing Street continues to allow the bankster conscience to dictate their fates rather than their crimes, it is little wonder I who have battled with the untouchable Halifax Bank of Scotland for almost five years, have been unable to acquire an un-redacted version of each and every piece of information held on my HBOS file in order to progress my Financial Ombudsman Service case of complaint.
US novelist and former financial trader, Philipp Meyer once said, “"Give a small number of people the power to enrich themselves beyond everyone's wildest dreams, a philosophical rationale to explain all the damage they're causing, and they will not stop until they've run the world economy off a cliff" and while our government and their regulators prefer to endorse the calculation of capital as a solution to the banking crisis instead of prosecuting the banksters grossly inappropriate corporate conduct, all we can expect globally, nationally and individually is...

A whole lot more of the same. 

Monday, 1 April 2013

Right and Wrong

Leading romantic poet, army officer and popular spokesman for Roman Emperor Augustus Quintus Horatius Flaccus once said, “A portion of mankind takes pride in their vices and pursues their purpose; many more waver between doing what is right and complying with what is wrong” and little illustrates this more effectively than the current relationship between the government, the banks, their regulators and their victims.

Paralysed by potential for further unfavourable economic consequence, our government remains malleable in the hands of our unprosecutable banksters.  Discretely exploring “The Bank Confiscation Scheme for UK and US Depositors” to cover future bank bailouts, their mantra is forgive and forget in the name of economic recovery and their course is set for redirecting both the blame and the costs of the crisis onto the shoulders of the most vulnerable. Insisting the bankers lucrative history of over-zealous incentivising is merely misguided rather than criminal , our politcians and regulators have used smoke and mirrors to conceal the full extent of the banksters crimes (many of which have yet to immerge) hoping they will pass unnoticed by the silent and unsuspecting majority.

Before taking up office, David Cameron famously said, "We all know, in our hearts, that as long as there is deep poverty living systematically side by side with great riches, we all remain the poorer for it" yet this week, as a direct result of banker bailouts, “an avalanche of benefit cuts will hit the same households over and over, with no official assessment of how far this £18bn reduction will send those who are already poor, into beggary”. In contrast, financial regulators repeatedly excusing corporate criminality on the governments instruction have failed to persuade those who reaped their illicit rewards, without prosecution, to employ moral fiber to tailor their future. As a result, a culture of entitlement for failure lives on amongst the very people whose avarice sentenced millions to a lifetime of hardship.

And nor have
  • HBOS, the worst bank in the world, who have refused to answer all further correspondence from me, seen fit to furnish me with the information I ask of them via my Data Subject Access Request.
I have, however received word from my newly appointed Financial Ombudsman Service adjudicator who informs he is (at long last I might add) looking forward to securing a response to my HBOS miss selling case from...


Quintus Horatius Flaccus also said, “It is no great art to say something briefly when, like Tacitus, one has something to say; when one has nothing to say, however, and none the less writes a whole book and makes truth into a liar - that I call an achievement” and if lip service to banking reform and the reams of meaningless correspondence I have regularly had the misfortune to receive from both Halifax Bank of Scotland and the Financial Ombudsman Service is anything to go by, 

I find that Quintus Horatius Flaccus is definitely not wrong!!