Napoleon Bonaparte once said, “The people to fear are not those who disagree with you, but those who disagree with you and are too cowardly to let you know”. After reading last week’s report that Swiss bank UBS have found someone to blame for their two billion dollar losses, along with many an article lamenting the government’s tepid support of banking reform, I cannot help but reflect on the impact the cowardly fears of the greedy have had on the current economic crisis both at home and abroad. Feeling aggrieved that regulatory bodies and governments alike prefer to leave ethics and moral obligation out of their investigations, I can only conclude their cowardly consent to banking malfeasance is set to continue while the perpetrators remain unchecked.
Not wishing to follow suit or suffer at the hands of HBOS in silence while believing that disobedience is the rarest and most courageous of the virtues, I have decided not only to disagree with the Financial Ombudsman Service’s recommendation to accept their findings, but also to insist they reply to the many unanswered questions they saw fit to neglect within my original compliant.
Fully aware that it seems to be common practise amongst regulators to leave out more than they put in when it comes to contentious banking issues, I have asked the Financial Ombudsman to address the following simple questions,
· Why did HBOS choose not to inform me, at outset, of the arrears on my mortgage?
· Why did HBOS neglect to offer me any form of debt counselling in an effort to explore the merits of alternative solutions other than forcing a sale on my home?
· Why did HBOS refuse to allow me to secure a three year tenant whose rent was more than enough to pay my mortgage interest plus regular and substantial sums towards the arrears?
· Why did HBOS choose to force me to sell my home and create a massive unrecoverable shortfall as opposed to follow their own guidelines which state they must secure the best return possible for their shareholders?
I await the Ombudsman’s reply.
In addition, I am delighted to report that sending my “All I need is you letter” to Antonio Horta Osorio and the HBOS company secretary Harry Baines (at Ian Fraser’s suggestion) has at last secured me a meaningful, albeit incomplete reply.
It appears HBOS’s Mortgage Recoveries Team leader plans a full investigation into their appointed solicitor, Merrils Ede’s handling of my case. Having been greatly relieved on receipt of the Ombudsman’s news that Merrils Ede are to be removed from my case, it didn’t occur to me that Merrils Ede might actually be the subject of an investigation themselves. Remembering all too clearly the two years of verbal assaults I have endured at the hands of Merrils Ede’s resident Rottweiler, I cannot help but raise a smile as write these words.
So, with many things in hand but still awaiting the replies, I am all the more determined not to let regret for the past and fear of the future steal my life. To this end I am embarking on a number of more domestic issues for next few days as I wait hopefully, but not very patiently, for some resolution on the debt fighting front.
This week I plan to,
· Write “Friends of the school” letters of welcome to all parents letting them know of our numerous forthcoming fundraising events.
· Escort my daughter, her two overseas school friends who board, and my mother to a local fashion show.
· Take delivery of a kindly donated and much needed garden shed
· Battle with our insurance company because we have no independent witnesses to the fact that we were stationary when another vehicle piled into the front of our car.
Hoping that my ongoing trials and tribulations at the hands of HBOS have not prevented me from learning more from looking for life’s answers rather than finding the answer itself, it has amused me to read that “democracy is the process by which people choose the man who’ll get the blame”. While, for the moment, my personal concerns rest with whether or not our insurance company will accept we are not to blame for the damage to our car, I cannot help but wonder who really believes, in the case of the UBS fraud or the HBOS Reading scandal that these examples of gross misconduct are truly the responsibility of a few misguided individuals rather than a greedy but cowardly corporate banking initiative.