As a “good European” former Chancellor George Osborne, now relegated to the backbenches, sprang to the aid of the HSBC when the US authorities were considering prosecuting that bank for financial “irregularities”
That there were such irregularities seems pretty well proved by the Bank’s agreement to pay a billion pound plus fine for engaging in them and thus escaped its well deserved extinction (which an US withdrawal of a banking licence would have ensured.) Or so it was successfully pleaded.
The fine was paid, of course, by you and I and all those who keep our money in banks under the naïve apprehension that it will both be safe and properly managed therein. No employee of the bank from manager down to humble cleaner was subjected to any criminal sanction for these undoubted offences. Why not?
One could ask George. Who would probably decline to answer or resort to evasions about “not my responsibility” But few of us will be under any illusion. The fact of the matter is that the banks own us. You, me and the politicians who, nominally ,are elected to represent our interests but single mindedly safeguard their own.
Banks have grown over mighty. Too big to fail? That is their mantra and we are expected to accept it uncomplainingly and without dispute. They don’t even sack the responsible parties when the cat exits the bag. Why not? Because they cannot, having connived at and approved the conduct that led to a British Chancellor having to get them off the American hook
We can, one supposes, hope that the new administration in London will be less solicitous of the interests of bank bosses and more inclined to see to it that where guilt lies proper penalties apply. A hope that will not survive the next big banking scandal.
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