Fox (n): carnivore of genus vulpes; crafty person; scavenger; (vb) to confuse; -ed (adj): to be drunk.
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Wednesday 19 June 2013

What a bunch of Bjerks.

BEING a banker is a lot like being James Bond.

Aside from the champagne lifestyle, regular golf and sense of godlike power you get total immunity from prosecution.

Did you steal an elderly widow's pension? Never mind! Did you mis-sell some payment protection insurance? Blame it on a henchman. Perhaps you caused the world economic system to totter? Invent a new martini and cock a wry eyebrow, why don't you.

On top of all that bankers get their own holidays and the more dodginess they display the more likely they are to be showered with honours, get a massive pension, and be asked to join various charity foundations set up by members of the Royal Family.

Poor old Bond couldn't expect much more than a gold watch and a lonely death with a gin bottle.

Despite the past five years of shame, disgrace and quite overwhelming evidence of blatant criminality nary a banker has been banged up for causing a worldwide financial crisis which necessitated multi-billion pound taxpayer bailouts and a decade of cuts in public services.

Let's say that again - 10 years of cuts to nursing, police, streetlights, defence, roads, rubbish collection and schools for 62million people in this country alone because some very rich men thought they were untouchable.

There have been a few cases - charges for traders accused of fiddling the interbank lending rate, and a sentence for a lone trader who lost £1.4billion for UBS. But not one senior banker has been hauled to court for being the person in charge of an institution which went to the wall.

But then, our financial sector makes £125billion a year - almost 10 per cent of the total economy. It pays £21billion in tax, creates four per cent of all our jobs, and it also provides more than 50 per cent of the political donations to the Conservative Party.

I imagine it's difficult to summon up the enthusiasm for a clear-out, if you're David Cameron.

Which is why instead we've got a report from MPs suggesting a number of changes to bonuses, responsibilities and regulations and a new offence of reckless management of a bank.

Not only are all these suggestions unlikely to be accepted, not only are they unlikely to be properly enforced, not only would they not have stopped the scandal we're all suffering from right now, but they are all entirely unnecessary because everything that went wrong is already a crime.

Pretending you've got money you haven't got in order to trick someone into giving you more is called fraud.

Insisting everything is fine with your bank when it's got a black hole in its finances the size of Jupiter is called misleading your shareholders.

Losing money you've been asked to look after is called embezzlement. Being financially rewarded for bad behaviour is called corruption. Manipulating trades is called market abuse.

Over-pricing, predatory lending, misadvising on risk - they're all against the rules, all punishable in some way, and what's more all utterly were ignored by bankers determined to be bad.

New, weaker, sillier rules aren't going to help anybody but the politicians who will look tough for suggesting them but who nevertheless continue to overlook crime and wrongdoing in an industry which it suits them to be friendly with.

Every penny spent on today's report was a waste because not only would it not change a damn thing it overlooks the principle problem was that the rules we already have were broken without punishment or remorse.

There's only one way out of that sort of pickle, and it's to use those rules to haul people before the courts and hammer home the message that law-breaking is not all right and will be punished.

We have not done that, we gave banks yet more money, and our economy continues to suffer. Iceland did jail its bankers, gave a bailout instead to its citizens, and its economy is booming.

It's a different place with different economic factors, but if they're working and we're on our arse it strikes me we ought to stop asking our politicians and bankers to sort it out amongst themselves and instead make like Bjork.

Anything's better than a bunch of greedy berks infested with corruption and criminality. Right Dave?

It's rhyming slang, you know. Berkshire Hunt...