Wednesday, 14 April 2010
It’s all the death penalty’s fault really. You think of American justice, you think of American politicians signing-off the execution of mentally disabled, poverty stricken ethnic minorities to win votes.
Except, one cheeky thing the US legal system does have going for it is its treatment of white-collar crime. Take Bernie Madoff and his 150 year sentence for running a ponzi scheme that robbed people of their life savings and compare it with say the Mirror Group pension fund scandal and all that legal aid wasted on securing no convictions.
Or then there’s the Natwest 3 who went to the British Financial Services Authority (as opposed to the comparable US agency) to fess up. Then when that appeared to backfire they took legal action to try and force, thats right FORCE, the British SFO to prosecute them, before eventually losing their appeal against extradition at the European Court of Human Rights; anything it seems to avoid being tried for US white collar crimes in the US by a US agency. Accordingly, after being extradited to the US they got 37 months in prison.
Or mebbes you could read March’s US report into how Lehman brothers used English law to justfy window dressing their accounts in an action that could lead to its former CEO going to trial (but in the US of course).
D’ya see the pattern emerging here? US justice? Ouchy, British justice? Wussy.
True, behind the scenes I’ve the impression the FSA is having quiet words with various banking and finance execs along the lines of “may I have a quiet word, my understanding is Sir Bufton Tufton, Deputy Chair of the Financial Instability and Operational Risk Operating committee no longer considers such and such suitable material” after which such and such subsequently and most miraculously finds themselves handing back the company blueberry and executive khazi keys for un specified “personal” reasons. But that’s just clubbable, terribly middle-class shite that is with stiff-upper lips all round I’m sure.
And yeah, yeah the FSA is kidding on its gone mad, batshit crazy by fining two former Northern Rock execs £644,000 between them. But so fuck? Sure, these guys were “only” on good six figure wages rather than the 7, 8 or 9+ figures actual top flight financiers get and sure, sure they probably lost packets when Northern Rock shares went phut. But, realistically? Worst case scenario? They might have to sell into the current depressed market the tacky haciendas they bought besides a Portugese golf course and look into timeshares instead.
Yet given how cataclysmically systemic it all was and how glaring the things they’ve been fined for where, why not bitch slap them with 3 years in jail as well, you know the kind of shit the NatWest 3 were shitting themselves about in a “ohmigod I don’t want to be someone’s prison bitch, I’ve not had that much stuffed up my arse since Bingo did the bongo at boarding school” type style?
And why is anyone bothering to big up such a measly punishment anyhow when reality makes clear how much of a total wuss the British system is anyway? Like compare the Northern Rock fine with say Ivan Boesky in the US who only got fined $100m dollars plus a 3 and a half-year sentence AFTER he plea bargained. There again he handed over Michael Milkin who eventually paid $1.1bn in lawsuits for being a naughty boy (and these examples are from the late-80s/early-90s i.e. before some of today’s financial crimes became criminal!)
One final point is why is everyone else with a vested interest – trade unions mebbes, but institutional investors defo, - being such wet farts? Quick example – as I had it explained to me once, the one time a company travel and expenses policy is really looked into is when someone senior in a company wanted rid of an exec on the cheap i.e. you didn’t provide a receipt for that £50 wine you claimed for therefore we are going to fuck you up for misconduct …………… or you could quietly resign?
So howzabout now an HR business partner or two (i.e. a dozen people at most across the UK) started looking into the extent to which certain peoples actually adhered to every company policy of every type before they took a package, then started making retrospective bitch moves to justify clawing back some of the gravy from the early-retired fuckwits that fucked half the British banking industry and with it much of the British economy?
Sure, it wouldn't make headlines - unless the shitfers being targetted started going to employment tribunals - but man oh man it'd feel like justice (as opposed to the law).
As a 16/04/10 P.S. Oopsy, forgot there was an election on and the Tories want to break-up the FSA, giving its consumer protection role to a new agency and its financial stability responsibility to the Bank of England, with the latter monitoring the overall growth of credit and debt in the economy (does that mean a return to money supply targeting I wonder?).
You’d almost think the FSA (or specific senior FSA execs) was using those Northern Rock shifters as high profile examples to illustrate how its tough on financial crime and tough on the causes of financial crime. Am sure that’s not even remotely the case, no chance, no way nelly. But, in case it is then no-one had better read this lovely wee study of the Icelandic Bank fiasco that gobbled up billions of British savings. Besides providing further evidence of rating agencies being utter shite, the note notes “The host supervisors of the UK and Netherlands, however, also have a duty to protect depositors in their countries. The Dutch authorities have repeatedly stated that there was little they could do. (The UK authorities have kept quiet.)” – because they were too busy grandstanding their handling of some Northern Rock nobodies perhaps? Pile of wanks basically.