Sunday, 29 September 2013

Fines and Punishment

Psychiatrist, social critic of moral and scientific foundations of psychiatry, author and academic, Thomas Szasz, once said, “Punishment is now unfashionable...[instead] we prefer a meaningless collective guilt to meaningful individual responsibility” and little illustrates this more effectively than the regulatory approach to the fraudulent actions of the banks.

Over the past three decades, a fraternity of banksters have systematically condoned, endorsed and turned a blind eye to illegal activities which have made them multi-millionaires but, to date, not one of them has personally paid their dues for crimes which include;
  •  Money laundering for drug cartels
  •  Money laundering for terrorists
  •  Mortgage fraud when initiating loans
  •  Repackaging toxic loans and selling them as low risk investments
  •  Betting against these investments to make themselves money
  •  Engaging in insider trading and market manipulation
  •  Misrepresenting their losses and their loan books
  •  Miss selling vast numbers of financial products
  • Rigging Libor ratings

As a result of their actions, a culture of criminality has permeated the core of what was once a service industry and when the consequences of banking avarice rendered too big to fail institutions insolvent, the UK was faced with the prospect of economic collapse and public anarchy or picking up the pieces with tax payers money.

Told we had no reasonable alternative but elect the latter we,
  • Were promised those responsible would be taken to task
As a result of investigations into the skulduggery of the banking crisis both the UK and the US regulators have levied the following fines;

      HSBC (2012). Fine: £1.1 billion. Reason: Money laundering

      JP Morgan (2013). Fine: £572 million. Reason: 'London Whale' trading scandal 
     UBS (2009). Fine: £485 million. Reason: Tax evasion

     Standard Chartered (2012). Fine: £415 million. Reason: Anti-sanctions

       ING (2012). Fine: £385 million. Reason: Anti-sanctions

       Goldman Sachs (2010). Fine: £359 million. Reason: Misleading investors

        Credit Suisse (2009). Fine: £333 million. Reason: Anti-sanctions

        ABN Amro (2010). Fine: £311 million. Reason: Anti-sanctions

        Barclays (2010). Fine: £280 million. Reason: Libor manipulation

        Lloyds Bank (2009). Fine: £218 million. Reason: Anti-sanctions

But opting for a meaningless collective punishment funded wholly from banking profits and not the pockets of perpetrators has done nothing to arrest the greed which has driven us to a banking crisis and has instead allowed those responsible to;
And this year,

  • Share a bonus pool of nearly £4 billion which amounts to a shade less than all the larger fines of the US and UK banks put together and gives the recipients an estimated 82.2% rise on the bonus pool  of last year.

In complete contrast to the collective luck of the UK’s banksters, over the past five years,
  •  It has become all too evident that there is no incentive for either the Financial Ombudsman Service or Halifax Bank of Scotland (now disguised as Lloyds) to give my five year old mortgage "miss selling" complaint the attention it deserves.
Ancient Greek philosopher, author, teacher and polymath, Aristotle once said, “The generality of men are naturally apt to be swayed by fear than reverence, and they refrain from evil rather because of the punishment that it brings than because of its own foulness” but if the penchant for collective and meaningless punishment continues to leave those responsible for the banking crisis unaccountable for their crimes, then fear and foulness may well be all we, the victims of the banking crisis, can anticipate.

This is quite simply unjust.

Friday, 13 September 2013


Lawyer, politician and seventeenth Prime Minister of Canada, John Napier Wyndham Turner once said, “Substantive and procedural law benefits and protects landlords over tenants, creditors over debtors, lenders over borrowers...” and, as a victim of the financial crisis, I know each and every word of this statement to be true.

Over the past five years I have been told,
  • Creditors who hound are not bound by their regularity codes of conduct because these are only guidelines
  • Requests made by he Financial Ombudsman Service of lenders under investigation are not binding and therefore they are not obliged to comply
  • Regardless of the terms laid out in the Housing Act for the treatment and rights of tenants, my landlord holds all the cards because, at any point after the first six months of my assured short hold tenancy, he can give me two months notice to quit.
  • I have also been told by both our local police and my solicitor that if my seventy five year old landlord ever enters my rented home uninvited and physically attacks my husband again, we will be well within our rights to bring a case against him for harassment and common assault,
Revolutionary, socialist, philosopher, economist and sociologist Karl Heinrich Marx once said, “Landlords, like all other men, like to reap where they have not sown” but I hoping, after the events of this Friday the thirteenth, my elderly, hot headed landlord might now be wondering if he is about to reap a whole lot more than he bargained for!

Tuesday, 10 September 2013


Eighteenth century German philosopher, cultural critic, poet, writer and composer Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche once said, “There are people who, instead of solving a problem, tangle it up and make it harder to solve for anyone who wants to deal with it” and much to my dismay this is precisely the position I find myself in now.

When, in November 2008, HBOS acquired a court order to repossess our family home, I contacted the landlord of a property which I knew had been reduced to a cold, leaky, rat invested shadow of its former glorious self. Too onerous a task for even the most robust of tenants to consider anything other than fleetingly, it had stood empty for the majority of the time that it had been available to let. However, where some saw a crumbling country pile which offered only ice cold winters, damp rooms and a fair few furry friends as housemates, I saw a five hundred year old home which was long overdue some TLC along with a landlord who might actually consider us, despite our financial circumstances.

After some tense moments of negotiation with regard to both our adverse credit history and the level of rent we could afford, the deal was done and in January 2009 we moved into a dilapidated manor house with Tudor origins. Over the past four years and nine months we have endured constant leaks, inadequate heating and all manner of wildlife infestations, but, with the help of our family and friends, we have battled with the elements to turn a once neglected house into a home and, until recently, believed all concerned were delighted with both the transformation, the financial arrangement and the way in which we have kept on top of the minor repairs.

However, following a meeting with a company advocating sustainable heating systems supported by the government’s renewable heat incentive, the attitude towards us has most definitely changed.  

After months of surveys and sales pitches, my seventy five year old landlord is now convinced we are grossly underpaying. Furthermore, he is adamant the installation of a bio-mass boiler (at a cost of somewhere in excess of £130,000) will not only service our family's heating requirements along with those of the four small commercial units he rents out in the adjacent barns, but it will also provide him with a generous return. Based on calculations produced by the salesman who remains blissfully unaware/disinterested in the ongoing structural problems of the property or the letting difficulties of the past, he has advised our landlord that the property will command a further £500 a month more in rent, inclusive of central heating fuel once the new heating system is operational.

What my landlord, his solicitor and the heating agent have failed to appreciate when formulating their calculations is;

·         A smattering of ancient radiators, many of which are broken and all of which are fed by small gauge pipes, will not be sufficient to provide adequate heating in a house of this size, however efficient the boiler

In order to stay warm I will still need to spend a further £240 to heat the water and fuel the fires on top of the inclusive rent

·        While my husband has enjoyed a cumulative wage increase of 7% over the past four years (amounting to approximately £90 a month in total) this has only served to reduce our reliance on tax credit and has not increased our household income

·         I am already in possession of £1066 pounds worth of Calor gas fuel for the winter (for which I am unable to obtain a refund) which I am still paying £154.00 per month

·         The ongoing economic crisis has not improved the chances of acquiring tenants for very large, expensive to run shabby old houses which are not water tight


·         Demolishing listed outbuildings and listed walled gardens without the necessary consents usually ends in tears.

So, while I now await the outcome of irate neighbors incensed by the unapproved decimation of my historic rented home, a formal rent review via an agent which will inevitably result in my being served notice to quit and the information I have been waiting for from HBOS since February, I cannot help but be astounded to discover that despite my letter of the 1 August 2013, the Financial Ombudsman Service’s adjudicator has been unable to press HBOS to provide me with the documentation I have repeatedly requested of them via my Data Subject Access Request because he has, until yesterday...

Misplaced my correspondence!

The imminent Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche also said, “Whoever does not know how to hit the nail on the head should be asked not to hit it at all” and as a result of the summers endless shenanigans, I am fast coming to the conclusion there are many who should have laid their hammers to rest some time ago.