To catch people like Rebekah Brooks & Bob Diamond we need strict liability

In her memo to her own staff over the hacking scandal Rebekah Brooks wrote “We were all appalled and shocked when we heard about these allegations yesterday………I have to tell you that I am sickened that these events are alleged to have happened…………..Not just because I was editor of the News of the World at the time”. In similar mode Bob Diamond, former chief executive of Barclays, declared to the parliamentary commission on banking standards that he felt “physically ill” when he learnt that Barclays employees had been making false rate submissions in the Libor scandal and that he was “disappointed because many of these behaviours happened on my watch”. These testimonies make it absolutely clear that we need new rules which target personal managerial responsibility when something disgraceful happens. Continue reading

Leveson-style inquiry into banks needed, not inter-MPs mud-slinging

They’re being forced to yield inch by inch. First, Barclays’ chairman Agius said he had no intention of resigning; 24 hours later he’d gone. Then the shameless and disgraced chief executive Diamond announced that he was the best person to oversee a change in culture at the bank, having told us a few months ago that Barclays laid great store by being a ‘good citizen’ whilst, as we now know, presiding over the excesses of Barcap, the LIBOR rate-fixing scandal and the latest mis-selling scam. Another 24 hours, he was forced to walk the plank. Continue reading

This latest bank crisis leaves several vital questions unanswered

Since the rigging of the key inter-bank lending rate (LIBOR) has been going on since 2005, why did it require the US Department of Justice to bring this enormous scam to light and why were the British authorities (FSA, Bank of England and Treasury) asleep at the wheel?Why were the top management of the banks so monumentally incompetent, or so wilfully blind, as not even to notice a clue in 7 years?

Why is the regulatory framework so pitifully weak that there are no long prison sentences in view, as there are in the US, as a severe deterrent against crippling financial malfeasance? All of these matters raise searching questions of accountability, the almost total lack of which is at the heart of this latest crisis. Continue reading

We need an independent inquiry into the fraud, wrongdoing & ethics of British banks

Following the gentle fines on Barclays Bank for its sustained manipulation of LIBOR interest rates, I have submitted an e-petition to government for a judicial public inquiry, which is already up on the government website and ready for signing – click here to access it. I hope that readers and followers who share my view that a full-scale judicial public inquiry is now urgently required will not only sign up, but encourage friends and colleagues to do so. Continue reading

Diamond trousers £6.5million

Bob Diamond, Chief Executive of Barclays plc, who told the Commons’ Treasury Select Committee in January that the time for bankers’ “remorse” over the collapse of the British banking system “was over”, has been awarded a bonus for 2010 of £6.5million, taking his total pay for the year to about £10million. The Wall Street Journal points out that this is “less than some earlier estimates of as much as £9 million—reflecting the bank’s efforts to pre-empt extra taxes by portraying itself as socially responsible.” It is als,o according to Robert Peston, still less than at least two top executives at the bank below Board level, and possibly some traders (whose earnings are not disclosed). This is “social responsibility”? Continue reading