Sunday, 29 September 2013

Fines and Punishment

Psychiatrist, social critic of moral and scientific foundations of psychiatry, author and academic, Thomas Szasz, once said, “Punishment is now unfashionable...[instead] we prefer a meaningless collective guilt to meaningful individual responsibility” and little illustrates this more effectively than the regulatory approach to the fraudulent actions of the banks.

Over the past three decades, a fraternity of banksters have systematically condoned, endorsed and turned a blind eye to illegal activities which have made them multi-millionaires but, to date, not one of them has personally paid their dues for crimes which include;
  •  Money laundering for drug cartels
  •  Money laundering for terrorists
  •  Mortgage fraud when initiating loans
  •  Repackaging toxic loans and selling them as low risk investments
  •  Betting against these investments to make themselves money
  •  Engaging in insider trading and market manipulation
  •  Misrepresenting their losses and their loan books
  •  Miss selling vast numbers of financial products
  • Rigging Libor ratings

As a result of their actions, a culture of criminality has permeated the core of what was once a service industry and when the consequences of banking avarice rendered too big to fail institutions insolvent, the UK was faced with the prospect of economic collapse and public anarchy or picking up the pieces with tax payers money.

Told we had no reasonable alternative but elect the latter we,
  • Were promised those responsible would be taken to task
As a result of investigations into the skulduggery of the banking crisis both the UK and the US regulators have levied the following fines;

      HSBC (2012). Fine: £1.1 billion. Reason: Money laundering

      JP Morgan (2013). Fine: £572 million. Reason: 'London Whale' trading scandal 
     UBS (2009). Fine: £485 million. Reason: Tax evasion

     Standard Chartered (2012). Fine: £415 million. Reason: Anti-sanctions

       ING (2012). Fine: £385 million. Reason: Anti-sanctions

       Goldman Sachs (2010). Fine: £359 million. Reason: Misleading investors

        Credit Suisse (2009). Fine: £333 million. Reason: Anti-sanctions

        ABN Amro (2010). Fine: £311 million. Reason: Anti-sanctions

        Barclays (2010). Fine: £280 million. Reason: Libor manipulation

        Lloyds Bank (2009). Fine: £218 million. Reason: Anti-sanctions

But opting for a meaningless collective punishment funded wholly from banking profits and not the pockets of perpetrators has done nothing to arrest the greed which has driven us to a banking crisis and has instead allowed those responsible to;
And this year,

  • Share a bonus pool of nearly £4 billion which amounts to a shade less than all the larger fines of the US and UK banks put together and gives the recipients an estimated 82.2% rise on the bonus pool  of last year.

In complete contrast to the collective luck of the UK’s banksters, over the past five years,
  •  It has become all too evident that there is no incentive for either the Financial Ombudsman Service or Halifax Bank of Scotland (now disguised as Lloyds) to give my five year old mortgage "miss selling" complaint the attention it deserves.
Ancient Greek philosopher, author, teacher and polymath, Aristotle once said, “The generality of men are naturally apt to be swayed by fear than reverence, and they refrain from evil rather because of the punishment that it brings than because of its own foulness” but if the penchant for collective and meaningless punishment continues to leave those responsible for the banking crisis unaccountable for their crimes, then fear and foulness may well be all we, the victims of the banking crisis, can anticipate.

This is quite simply unjust.

1 comment:

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