Jan 1, 2016
Financial Crime Expert Consultant
George Osborne is facing serious accusations of forcing financial regulators to abandon a review into Britain’s banking culture, while under pressure from the banking industry’s biggest names.
The Chancellor is “bowing” to demands to drop the so-called “banker bashing” probe set up after the Libor rate-rigging scandal, it is now being claimed.
The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has announced it will instead “engage individually with firms to encourage their delivery of cultural change”.
What a complete load of absolute utter drivel – what a pile of hyper wabble-babble!
“…Engaging… to encourage the delivery of cultural change…”
What on earth does that mean? What kind of weasel-worded, double-speak bollocks is this, and more importantly, wtf believes it?
Banks are operated like Mafia families, they are organised criminal entities, by their very definition. The culture of the banks is entirely criminogenic – they have very strong criminal tendencies and they will purposefully ignore or break any law which gets in the way of their making more and bigger profits.
The truth is that the bankers have got hold of Osborne, (who doesn’t need much persuading) and they have bullied him shamelessly into believing that they would relocate their base of operations elsewhere if the pressure on them to come clean got too strong.
Instead of putting them to their threat, Osborne (who likes bankers and who wants to believe them) has rolled over.
The decision comes after FCA chief executive Martin Wheatley announced, back in July, his decision to quit the post as Mr Osborne refused to renew his contract, which was due to end in March this year. Wheatley was beginning to make his demands heard and understood and he was dishing out some very strong penalties. The banks didn’t like it or him, and they lobbied Osborne to get rid of him.
MPs have already suggested the Chancellor was behind this decision to drop the review, months after it was set up.
Labour’s John Mann, who sits on the Treasury select committee, said : “George Osborne is behind it, without any question.
“The cultural issues are what lay at the heart of the financial crisis. It’s fundamental. Individuals took irrational risks with other people’s money.
Well, yes, but they also stole a whole heap of it as well!
“This decision leaves us hugely exposed into the future because it allows the banks to continue to go on acting as they acted before.”
He added: “George Osborne is bowing to pressure from the banks. HSBC and Barclays have threatened to leave the country.”
Conservative Mark Garnier, who also sits on the committee, said he was ” .disappointed…” by the decision.
He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “There has always been this great argument that perhaps the Treasury is having more influence over the regulator than perhaps it ought to and certainly, if I was looking for a Machiavellian plot behind what’s happened here and the tone of the regulator, then I suppose I would start looking at the Treasury.”
Well, let us review the facts, because what is becoming clearer is not just that George Osborne is demonstrating his willingness to support the criminal banks, but is also proving him to be someone who has a difficulty in determining the truth.
Back in February 2013, just when it mattered and in the wake of a major Parliamentary Review which had attracted the attention of the whole world. the Chancellor made a speech to J.P.Morgan, in which he announced that the UK’s big banks would be broken up if they failed to follow new rules to ring-fence risky investment operations from High Street outlets.
He needed some high-flown words to make it seem like he cared about bankig crime and that he was serious about protecting the public, but his threats were never going to happen.
The Chancellor referred to the scandalous conduct of the UK banks in recent years and said that the taxpayers were very angry at banks’ behaviour and would never again be expected to bail them out.
The Chancellor’s speech came on the same day the government introduced its Banking Reform Bill in Parliament.
Mr Osborne also said the banking system was not working for its customers, particularly small businesses and individuals.
The Chancellor appeared then to have accepted a major recommendation of an earlier Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards which called for a reserve power to “electrify the ring-fence” if banks did not implement reforms.
The Ring-Fence: The High Street activities of each UK bank were to be put into a separate subsidiary from its riskier investment banking.
Well, that was distortion number two. The big banks were not going to sit back and watch their flaky wholesale arms dislocated from their retail cash cows!
Other mis-statements include the requirement for bank directors to accept the responsibility for the actions of their subordinates. Well, that provision recently got pulled as well!
Electrification: Regulators would be given the power to split up an individual bank altogether, subject to certain conditions, if the regulator deemed that bank to be undermining the purpose of the ring-fence. Regulators would also review the entire UK banking industry each year to determine whether the ring-fence was proving effective.
Deposit Guarantees: The Financial Services Compensation Scheme currently guarantees up to £85,000 of every deposit in a UK bank, although this will be reduced to £75,000. Under the bill, if a bank goes bust, the FSCS will be paid out ahead of other people owed money by the bank. It means that the FSCS will be better able to recover the money it has guaranteed, which should reduce the potential bill for taxpayers if there is a shortfall.
Loss Absorbency: The bill gives the Treasury the power to impose tougher requirements on banks to increase their ability to absorb losses, in particular by requiring a bank to borrow money from markets in a form that allows the bank to impose losses on the lenders if it gets into trouble.
The Independent Commission on Banking, led by Sir John Vickers in 2011, had concluded that ring-fencing was the best way to protect “core” retail banking activities from any future investment banking losses.
Osborne said in his speech, at JP Morgan’s administration offices in Bournemouth, that banks had failed to take responsibility for their actions. The 2008 crisis, which marked the start of the credit crunch, saw the government use £65bn of public money propping up Royal Bank of Scotland and Lloyds Banking Group alone.
Osborne also referred to greed and corruption over banks’ rigging of the Libor interest rate, and blamed recklessness by banks’ so-called “casino operations” for dragging the financial system to the brink of collapse. The reputation of banks has been further undermined by scandals such as the fraudulent sale of payment protection insurance and the rigging of the Libor interest rate.
The chairman of the Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards, Andrew Tyrie, warned the banks could not be trusted: “Banks require discouragement from gaming the rules. They will always try to do so unless strong disincentives are put in place.”
He said once the spotlight had moved away from the banks, they would be likely to try to soften the regime: “At that time, banks could be particularly active in testing the ring-fence and lobbying politicians to alter its design for their benefit. Electrification creates incentives against such behaviour.”
Well, that was then and this is now, and the banks have been assiduously lobbying good old George to get him to relax these important measures. And George has done what the banks have demanded, he has toadied to them shamelessly and has overseen the dropping of any of the proposed measures.
Indeed, all the provisions worth anything and announced in the aftermath of the findings of the Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards have been dropped or cancelled.
So how can anyone believe a single word George Osborne says?
An enquiry into banking culture was needed more now than at any time, but it is the last thing the banks want to see being publicised.
Putting it as simply as possible, banks exist to reward greed and cupidity. Bankers demand and expect to be paid salaries and bonuses far beyond the dreams of avarice. But paying these ludicrous sums of money does not make the recipients any more worthy, they simply demand even more.
In order to satisfy this level of greed banks have to find other ways of generating revenues and profits, and the only real way in which they can do that is to encourage an exponential level of unmanaged risk taking, and an unspoken acknowledgement that criminal offences will have to be committed in order to raise the profits.
To do that, they employ middle management who are responsible for ensuring the lowest-level workers maintain the through-put of profitability, and who are paid high levels of remuneration. By far the largest percentage of that money is comprised of bonuses achieved from the earnings generated by their direct reports, so each manager has a fixed interest in looking the other way and not asking too many awkward questions about the profits being made by his team members.
Such an atmosphere generates a culture or a climate of ‘anomie’, or an ‘anomic’ environment, within which ordinary rules, norms and behavioural determinants are routinely ignored, and criminality is rewarded.
And when public concern at this culture of criminality becomes too pronounced, then some form of Parliamentary enquiry is announced, where the great and the good pontificate, a lot of hot air is generated, lots of promises are made, and proposals for change are tabled.
Then, when the tumult and the shouting has died, George quietly rolls over when the bankers threaten to take their toys away, and he gives in, allowing them to carry on like before.
George Osborne is presiding over an era where the reputation of the City of London has become degraded and trashed because its importance to international criminals has become greater than the Cayman Islands or any of the offshore, funny money centres.
For some reason, this man seems to feel that any kind of financial skulduggery can be permitted within the Square Mile, and it will not have any shaming or deleterious effect.
There used to be a time where Ministers of the Crown went to great lengths to at least give the impression that they meant what they said, but now, as far as George, the Bankers’ toady is concerned, he will promise to do one thing on one day, but as soon as his friends in the Square Mile start bleating, he will back down.
And all the time, the bankers continue to commit financial crimes.
We simply cannot continue to have a man in charge of the UK economy who behaves in this cavalier fashion.
Osborne is not a stupid man, and he has an army of lawyers to advise him, if he did but want to know. A man who connives in the commission of criminal offences, and who continues to permit such activities to occur, in the full knowledge of what he is doing, is as guilty of the crimes being committed as the person committing them.
He, as Chancellor, is in a unique position of authority and responsibility, and he is aiding and abetting these banking crimes, he is turning a blind eye to the provenance of the criminal money flooding into London; and by his deliberate failure to take positive action to legislate to help to prevent such crimes continuing to occur, is evidencing his complicity in the criminal culture he is facilitating within the banking world.