Banks: publish and be damned!
We end 2010 – two years after the most devastating banking crash of our life times with still not a single individual from any UK financial institution prosecuted, let alone in jail.
And now we have the spectacle of Andrew Tyrie, Chairman of the Treasury Select Committee, a Conservative MP, calling upon the financial regulator (the FSA) to publish the report from the only serious City-wide investigation that might have culminated in prosecutions.
This apparently vast tax payer funded investigation into wrong doing, specifically at RBS (of which you and I own 84 per cent), was completed but not published last week. Indeed the FSA has stated baldly that it is simply not going to publish it. Why? Is it because it is such a damning finding that it would bring the entire City down? I doubt it. Is it on the other hand so limp-wristed an effort that it might proved completely embarrassing if any taxpayer ever caught sight of it?
The public pronouncements thus far may help us answer those questions. Lord Turner says the report’s findings would ‘add little if anything to understanding of what went wrong’ at RBS. Why? How many accountants, detectives, lawyers and the rest does it take to unravel what RBS got up to? Was it so complex a web of activity that even the brightest brains in the FSA cannot crack it? If that’s the case, should even brighter brains be brought in to do the job?
Mr Tyrie himself says that the FSA, is ‘seeking permission from RBS to enable the release of more information from this investigation in the public interest’. Does this all sound suspiciously ‘hole in the corner’,‘old boy’ stuff? The FT tells us this morning that ‘sources close to RBS say it would be difficult to secure the go-ahead from dozens of former directors’.
So Britain tips nearly £100bn into RBS (most recently another £4bn into bad RBS investments in Irish banks) because of, at the very least, gross mismanagement and then pays a few million pounds to investigate what led to it…and must then ask those who participated in it all for permission to identify publicly what they did.
Does anyone know where Alice in Wonderland is playing this Christmas?