Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Conscientious Objections

American president Thomas Jefferson said, “All tyranny needs in order to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent” and while I wait, without patience, for a reply from the Halifax Bank of Scotland with regard to the overvaluation of my home, I continue to smart from the knowledge there are many people of good conscience who would prefer to accuse me of irresponsible borrowing rather than consider the unpalatable possibility their banks are participating in a reign of financial tyranny to feed elitist avarice from the modest means of the least fortunate.
While banking sins of the past continue to surface in the public domain and CEO’s like Stephen Hester of RBS admit their parents believe they already earn too much, recent reports reveal the world’s top bankers are set to enjoy a double digit increase to their remuneration this year, excluding bonuses.  Despite banking profits and share prices plummeting, the top fifteen anticipate as much as 12% will be added to their personal bottom line and Barclay’s Bob Diamond and Lloyds banking Group’s Antonio Horta Osario are but two of the lucky chief executives set to benefit. As this award comes hot on the tail of an unprecedented number of customer complaints, the huge toll of PPI compensation payouts, a well documented hard line approach to both in house redundancies and debt forgiveness for the vulnerable, one could easily say for many banking executives, there remains good reason to fiddle while the economy continues to burn.

In contrast, the impact of this hard nosed, self serving banking culture on the individual has been further revealed during an open high court hearing into the collapse of Christmas savings company Farepak.  However, this investigation has only served to illustrate there is little the law can to do to arrest banking tyranny at any level  as HBOS’s penchant for lining their own pockets at the expense of others has not only left the Farepak’s directors and their customers to suffer the consequences of HBOS's actions, but also proved that HBOS is adept at remaining beyond the grasp of the strong arm of the law.

In the case of Farepak the court was told “for a year, 116,400 of the country’s poorest families had been putting aside a little bit of cash, saving up for Christmas” only to be left with nothing because, rather than putting together a rescue plan to save the company from collapse or cutting their losses when the writing was on wall, HBOS insisted Farepak directors continue to collect customer’s monthly subscriptions in an effort to eliminate the bank’s exposure. While Mr Justice Peter Smith, not unlike FSA investigators earlier this year, condemned the actions of HBOS, he also “implored” them to redress the situation for Farepak’s customers on moral grounds as he was unable to find the transferring of HBOS losses onto the shoulder’s of Farepak’s customers in this way, illegal. Needless to say HBOS, who infamously referred to the revenue the Farepak customers were providing them as "Doris money", insist they made “entirely reasonable decisions” based on the information they had at the time.

Italian writer, statesmen and Florentine patriot Niccolo Machiavelli once said, “Good morals, if they are to be maintained, have need of the laws, so the laws, if they are to be observed, have need of good morals” yet despite the ongoing distress of those caught up in a global economic crisis some five hundred years later, there remains little evidence of morality or the law playing its part in bringing errant banking practises to heel. Left endlessly waiting in purgatory and with little hope of the law or morality coming to my rescue, if the Farepak case is anything to go by, it is my plan, with good conscience,

Never to remain silent on the matter.

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