Monday, 4 February 2013

Costs of Living

Joseph Franklin Rutherford, US trial lawyer, prosecutor and key developer of the Jehovah’s Witnesses doctrines, once said, “ False riches consisting of money, houses and lands, acquired by selfish means at cost to others and thereafter used selfishly, are almost always used for the oppression of other persons” and allowing those who created a culture of banking fraud (a crime the industry and its regulators would prefer to call miss selling and manipulation) escape accountability, retain the proceeds of their ill gotten gains and position themselves beyond the long arm of the law, clearly illustrates how little has changed since Rutherford first made his observation.

In 2009 the National Audit office stated 850 billion pounds had been spent on saving the UK’s banks from the consequences of their fraudulent actions. This equates to something in the region of £3,500 to £27,500 per capita, depending on whether losses in share values are included in the calculation, and the obligation to fund this sum has been laid firmly on the shoulders of each and every individual in the UK. Furthermore, in Ireland current estimates indicate the cost of the economic crisis will quadruple that which the UK has so far endured. However, four full years since the first distasteful load of banksters dirty washing was aired in public, the tawdry truth has had little effect on those who masterminded this calculated redistribution of wealth.  Their houses and their lands along with their money remain intact and the fines levied by regulators (and perceived by the majority as punishment) have been, for the most part, funded from company coffers which were previously filled from the pockets of the long suffering British taxpayer.

Crime has clearly paid in the banking sector but for their victims the story is a very different one. Increased unemployment and reduced benefits have left many people struggling to make ends meet and 1.4 million families in the UK are currently facing homelessness because crisis driven austerity measures and job shortages have left them without sufficient income to meet rent and mortgage payments. Despite the Bank of England’s governor Mervyn King saying something has gone “very wrong” with Britain’s banks and “it’s time to do something about [it]”, little has changed. Speaking as one who has suffered insurmountable loses as a result of the banking crisis, I believe reform has not been forthcoming because those causing the problems have not been required to pick up the bill.

Natalie Ceeney, the Chief Financial Ombudsman recently told a Parliamentary Inquiry investigating bank miss-selling, “Evidence given by the banks was "factually untrue [and] implausible"  and further states "I have never trusted any CEO who says ‘I didn’t know'”. However, Parliamentary inquiries, independent investigations and harsh words have still not held the culprits to account and leniency of this nature allows infamous organisations like HBOS to remain untroubled by regulatory requirements and positively blasé about the complaints process.

As I have found to my detriment, making a financial service complaint is fraught with pitfalls and if my own case is anything to go by, it is not a journey to be undertaken by the fainthearted. I have spent years negotiating its tricky intricacies and despite my best efforts, I am still to be found waiting, under the less than watchful eye of the Financial Ombudsman Service, for a further two fruitless weeks for the Halifax Bank of Scotland to provide me with the thorough and timely investigation they personally promised me in November 2012.

In the meantime I have requested they supply me with the following,

  • A copy of my original mortgage application form
  • A copy of the Bank of Scotland’s underwriting compliance documents
  • Acknowledgement from the Halifax Bank of Scotland ( by return) of my 24 Jan response to their letter dated 17 Jan 2013
  • A revised response from the Halifax Bank of Scotland (within 14 days) concerning my over valuation complaint using actual figures rather than fictitious ones.
Needless to say I have heard nothing.

Joseph Franklin Rutherford also said, “If you are kept in ignorance of the true way and permit yourself to rely upon and be guided by the opinion of imperfect man, you can never gain the riches that bring you peace and lasting happiness”.  Likewise if both I and the general public continue to be kept in ignorance by the "factually untrue" and "implausible inaccuracies" of the banksters, I can see that not only will my imperfect Halifax Bank of Scotland customer services man be unable to furnish me with my rightful fair share of peace and lasting happiness, but the riches which were supplied to the banks by the British tax payer will remain in the pockets of the unscrupulous indefinitely.

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