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London’s Biggest Criminal — Andrew Bailey — Hide like a Rhinoceros

Any self-respecting regulator would have walked.

But not Andrew Bailey — the corrupt head of the UK’s captured financial regulator — the Financial Conduct Authority. Not in Brexit Britain.

On the Take?

The man who’s overseen fraud on an industrial scale remains the bookies’ favourite, by some margin, to be the next Chairman of the Bank of England.


Too Big to Jail

His complacency over the ongoing Woodford scandal shows that Brand Bailey has itself become Too Big to Jail.


But could it be that the tide is finally turning?

The FCA, the Treasury, and the Treasury Select Committee have all been alerted to conflicts of interest, misselling, and fraud in Fund Management, Pensions, Local Government and Small Business but have repeatedly looked the other way.

Kent have been hit hard by the Iceland Crisis, the LOBO scandal, and now they are losing money at Woodford.

Outsourcing firm Capita’s traces are often to be found near the scene of the crime.

Retail fund manager Hargreaves Lansdown is also caught up.

But it’s Bailey who is instrumental in obstructing justice for small businesses on an industrial scale.

While banks fraudulently missold investment products to business customers which were then used to steal their customers’s assets, Bailey has done all he can to protect the criminals.

Is the top job at the Bank of England his reward?

Slack Journos

Journalists like the BBC’s Andrew Verity & James Hurley of the Times like to make out they are on the side of the defrauded small businesses.

But when it comes down to it, the language they use on social media and in their output downplays the level of fraud coming out of the FCA, the audit firms, and the banks.

To be fair, Verity works for the BBC and Hurley the Times, so there is only so far they can go.

The main work these journalists do is in deciding what to hide from the public as opposed to what to disclose.

No wonder Bailey remains the favourite to take over as Chairman of the Bank of England.

Were our mainstream journalists not so craven, Bailey would be looking at Belmarsh, not Threadneedle Street.

City Apologist

The biggest Bailey cheerleader of them all is Alex Brummer, City Editor at the Daily Mail.

Brummer writes very well on foreign takeovers.

But when it comes to Bailey, Brummer is the most corrupt.

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Nudged in New Cross

Behaviouralist Bants

So I thought Skinner was the bad guy. The really mechanistic one. Or was it Watson?

Who said we are basically all the same and that our feelings and personal stories don’t really matter.

That there is no such thing as experience. That we are all automatons. The one who put his daughter in a box.

These guys were out of fashion when I learned about them in the early 90s.

But then there was a behavioural revival of sorts. Which in turn enveloped economics.

But behavioural economics said we are all predictably irrational. That classical economics is wrong but behavioural economics is right.

But there are assumptions in behavioural economics too.

Such as that we have limited time and limited information.

Gigerenzer shows that lifting the information and time caps leads to bad decision making – even for experts.

He says we all excel at fast and frugal decision making and that overthinking things induces a form of judgment paralysis.

So behavioural economics itself is quite wrong in terms of how it is applied outside the narrowest of conditions.

And refuses to admit it only thrives under controlled conditions.

But it’s about control.

Choice architecture. Avoiding decision fatigue. Favorably automating information flows. Forcing people into certain situations and pretending it’s both logical and exemplifying freedom.

Someone tell Oliver Letwin.

He’s kind of gone now. Still an MP but not quite the eminence grise he once was.

He spoke about his ideas at the institute of government in 2014, I think.

Outlining the Road from Mont Pelerin that his parents and he had trundled. And then he admitted that he now realised that Intervention does work.

What kind of intervention do you mean, Oliver?

Surely not state intervention in markets – not a liberal like you?

Nor QE, where central banks do the heavy lifting that austerity governments ought really to be doing.

Oliver Letwin revealed that he was taking about the nudge unit.

Though he didn’t mention the job centre – he was probably talking about over there too.

His wife Isabel was head of legal services at The Department of Work and Pensions and at the Department of Health. Oliver’s crackpot ideas will have been used on mental health patients and “under” & “unemployed” people who didn’t really need them.

Of course the machinery of government exists to prevent anyone really knowing the consequences of their actions.

Agnatology is another word for ignorance studies. Sociologist Linsey McGoey has a book out on the topic next year. The Unknowers. Watch out for it.

There is always a latest fad via which the old school asset stripping is masked.

Dark Pools

At book club we looked at Dark Pools. The rise of AI and high frequency trading. I couldn’t help but think when presented with these smart idealist insurgent American price scalpers – You Got To Pick a Pocket or Two!!!

So there. From Hangman on the High Street to Richard Thaler’s Nobel 2017 Prize for Nudging.

Cancer research UK has me thinking of the Crick Institute, big pharma and the next Goldman Sachs social impact bond. This a featured big under Cameron, Osborne and Letwin and was just an excuse to privatize the NHS and get volunteers to steer the handover.

Will Davies looks at some of this stuff in Happiness Industry and Nervous States – links between neo-liberal policies, technology, happiness and “well being” discourse. I haven’t seen it yet but I’m sure big pharma has its place in there too.

There’s some great work being done on investigating all this but it’s pretty under the radar.

Let me know if you have any recommendations.

Once you start looking into any of this funny things start happening.

The Road from Mont Pelerin.

I met up with John Christensen of tax justice Network yesterday who told me about The Finance Curse, a new book out by Nicholas Shaxson.

There’s some research accompanying the launch, this Friday, which sheds light on the colossal cost to the UK of the Finance Curse.

Meanwhile check out his film The Spiders Web on YouTube and for updates on what the Tax Justice Network are up to check out the TaxCast with Naomi Fowler.

When discussing Mont Pelerin, I told John I once met Linda Whetstone, whose father, Anthony Fisher, set up the Institute for Economic Affairs (IEA).

John asked me how a man who so frequently invoked freedom could make his money from forcing hens into cages barely big enough for them to even breathe.

The Macron Curse

It looks like Macron is going to copy Blair and go all out for neoliberalism.

God knows what that will do to the environment and the Paris Climate accord!

I’m meeting Chloé Farrand of DeSmogUK tomorrow and will report back where she thinks we are heading.

The finance curse has done nothing to improve the gender pay gap in London. So I wonder what the figures look like in France.

London Conversation

I’m planning on publishing more frequently.

The idea is that with heightened fluency might come some sort of style.

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Flagrant Contempt of Parliament by Crony Capitalist Sir Howard Davies of RBS

Do we live in a truly decadent age?

Can anyone get away with anything?

These are questions I feel compelled to ask after watching just a few minutes of Howard Davies and Ross McEwan, of the taxpayer-owned Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), giving evidence before last Tuesday’s Parliamentary Treasury Select Committee.

To not, as a society, vehemently question the goings on at these proceedings implies a collective post traumatic stress disorder following the 2008 crash that has robbed us of the dignity and empathy that we need to recover.

But recover we must. Current tolerance levels for corruption and injustice remain incredibly high and we all too often simply carry on.

Dialectic-as-a-service

 

Rushdie used to quote Kundera by saying that man’s struggle against the system was like the persistence of memory when trying to forget.

What happens when we can’t forget?

Madness is rare in individuals – but in groups, parties, nations, and ages it is the rule. Friedrich Nietzsche

What happens when powerful individuals are given platforms to defend corporate criminality while the rightful anger and people’s sense of injustice is segmented and siloed off to the point of non-existence, like the risk on a series of high risk collateralised debt obligations (CDOs) repackaged as Triple A reliable investments during good times only to re-emerge as toxic during the bad.

The risk and the anger never go away. They just get stored up for a later date. “They that sow the wind, shall reap the whirlwind”.  Some will wonder why no-one heeded the warnings. How the journalists are to blame just as much as the government and the bankers.

Maybe the warning signs are hidden in the business pages. As Harvey Cox says in The Market as God, the concepts in the business pages are theological. Redemption and Retribution. People getting away with stuff and others getting punished. Why does God permit it?  Nowadays we have PR people, Regulators, Central Banks, Blacklisted Whistleblowers and a growing number of unhappy customers.

If you kick off about this stuff, people ridicule you for making a big deal out of nothing, for being an anti-business Social Justice Warrior that knows nothing about the way of the world.

If the facts of life really are conservative then why make a fuss about anything?

Anyway, here’s that master class in how to carry out state-sanctioned cannibalistic, rampant Crony Capitalism in broad daylight — and get away with it.

Lots of innocent Small Business Owners have been asset stripped of their families, marriages, businesses and homes by the RBS Global Restructuring Group (GRG), and all many of them will get is this:

It is hard to see which features of Crony Capitalism don’t apply here:

Crony capitalism is an economy in which businesses thrive not as a result of risk taken for them, but rather as a return on money amassed through a nexus between a business class and the political class. This is done using state power to crush genuine competition in handing out permits, government grants, special tax breaks, or other forms of state intervention[1][2]over resources where the state exercises monopolist control over public goods, for example, mining concessions for primary commodities or contracts for public works. Money is then made not merely by making a profit in the market, but by profiteering by “rent seeking” using this monopoly or oligopoly. Entrepreneurship and innovative practices, which seek to reward risk are stifled, since the value-add is little by crony businesses as hardly anything of significant value is created by them, with transactions taking the form of “trading”. Crony capitalism spills over into the government, the politics and the media,[3] when this nexus distorts the economy and affects society to an extent it corrupts public-serving economic, political and social ideals.

The term “crony capitalism” made a significant impact in the public as an explanation of the Asian financial crisis.[4] It is also used to describe governmental decisions favoring “cronies” of governmental officials. In this context, the term is often used comparatively with corporate welfare, a technical term often used to assess government bailouts and favoritistic monetary policy, as opposed to the economic theory, described by “crony capitalism”. The extent of difference between these terms is whether a government action can be said to benefit the individuals rather than the industry.

Off with their heads. No questions asked.

But for some reason, the British sense of fair play perhaps, they remain.

But how long can this carry on?

Here are the rules on lying to Select Committees from a Parliament Document: 

So none of what is said in a select committee hearing can be relied upon in civil or criminal proceedings against anyone but attempting to mislead is Contempt of Parliament.

I’m still waiting for the full transcript of Davies and McEwan’s hearing to go up. I feel the people at Parliament are dragging their feet.

I’m realising that Howard Davies’s chiaroscuro can be found near pretty much every financial crime scene going. With previous like you wouldn’t believe.

McKinsey, Treasury, Seconded Special Adviser to Nigel Lawson when he was Thatcher’s Chancellor of the Exchequer, Bank of England, Head of the Audit Commission which is now defunct but was instrumental in overseeing Thatcher’s Privatisation and Denationalisation agenda including Fraud Investigation, the London School of Economics from where he had to resign because of his closeness to Colonel Gaddafi, and now he’s the Chair of the Fraud Machine that is the 71% taxpayer owned Royal Bank of Scotland.

Here he is on PFI. 

For more on how banks treat their customers, their staff, and the whistleblowers that speak out, follow Real Media, financial adviser Stephen Middleton, Bank Confidential,Kam Sandhu, Joel Benjamin, Ian Fraser, and Whistleblowers Mark Wright & Nicholas Wilson:

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Breaking: Corrupt Money Launderers HSBC bankrolled Corrupt Cameron & Corrupt Osborne’s Trips to Davos

Corrupt Money Launderers HSBC bankrolled David Cameron and George Osborne’s trip to the World Economic Forum in Davos in 2009, it has emerged.

The controversial lender lent the gaffe-prone billionaire bookie and former Tory Treasurer Michael Spencer £200 million pounds just a day before the massive Iceland Crisis that wiped billions of pounds off the balance sheets of many UK Local Authorities.

Many of these cash strapped Local Authorities had invested in Iceland because of advice given to them by one of Michael Spencer’s firms — Butlers.

Shortly after getting a £200million bailout from HSBC and narrowly avoiding bankruptcy because of the Iceland debacle (unlike his local authority clients), Spencer donated a million pounds to the Tory party.

It was around this time that Spencer’s holding company IPGL paid for Cameron and Osborne to fly to Davos by private jet.

This revelation is all the more galling given that Cameron and Osborne are known to have shaped regulation to favour HSBC and Spencer’s ICAP and torpedoed investigations into both firms both in the UK and the USA.

Some anti-corruption researchers and campaigners raised this issue with the HSBC board at the Bank’s Annual General Meeting (AGM) in London on Friday but were sidelined.

The Canary have run a piece on the scandal which has received zero pick-up in the mainstream press.

For more info on Spencer read this article by the excellent I am Incorrigible :

 

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Trump Era White Collar Crime: Who’s Chasing Who?

What is going on with Wall Street White Collar Crime in the Trump era?

Hedge Fund Managers Never Die

Sheelah Kolhatkar wrote an excellent article in The New Yorker this January.

Her book, Black Edge: Inside Information, Dirty Money, and the Quest to Bring Down the Most Wanted Man on Wall Street, is all about the way the US New York District Attorney tried to bring down Hedge Fund Manager Steve Cohen.

This from CSPAN yesterday:

You’re Fired!

It turns out that the US Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Preet Bharara, who attempted to jail Steve Cohen,  has since been fired by Donald Trump.

Washington Post Washington Post

Reaction

Bharara’s own performance as a prosecutor has prompted mixed reactions.

From praise:

To mixed:

And outright hostile:

 

This hedge fund ethics and compliance executive was also jailed by Bharara.

 

 

Reading List

For more on Preet Bharara in the New Yorker:

TV Show

The TV Show Billions is loosely based on the Hedge Fund Insider Trading Battles that creator Andrew Ross Sorkin has covered while working as a New York Times journalist, CNBC Squawk Box host and successful author.

 

This is how the show’s creators responded to Bharara’s sacking:

So what do you think is really going on?

Is Mr Trump really ‘draining the swamp’ — or just feeding the crocodiles?

 

 

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Nepotism trumps Feminism at the Bank of England

If you want to know what makes Britain tick, take a look at the Bank of England.

Interlocking directorships and the Old Boy Network still dominate public life as its recent appointment of Charlotte Hogg reveals.

But few media commentators ever refer to this as a problem. In a recent book – Trust, Power and Public Relations in Financial Markets, Dr Clea Bourne – refers to ‘organised silence’.

Charlotte ‘I wrote the rulebook’ Hogg

Charlotte Hogg, Deputy Governor of the Bank of England (BoE), was appointed the Bank’s Chief Operating Officer in 2013 but never, despite being asked about potential conflicts of interest, disclosed that her brother is a Barclays director.

When she appeared in front of the Treasury Select Committee (TSC) to discuss her recent promotion Hogg said she was well aware of the Bank’s code of conduct — quite apt given she wrote it.

You’d think the daughter of two members of the House of Lords might have more respect for protocol.

It turns out that Hogg’s brother, Quintin, is the least interesting member of the family.

Charlotte Hogg’s mum Sarah Hogg aka Viscountess Hailsham was head of John Major’s Policy Unit in the 1990s — where the controversial Private Finance Initiative (PFI) that has virtually bankrupted the NHS was pioneered.

Sarah Hogg then wrote a book about the Major Years with David Cameron’s recent EU Finance Commissioner & PR Man Jonathan Hill.

Drain the Moat

Charlotte Hogg’s father Douglas Hogg aka Lord Hailsham was himself a Cabinet Minister as well as MP to Mrs Thatcher’s home town of Grantham.

Douglas Hogg was also one of the most prominent offenders in the 2009 parliamentary expenses scandal.

He charged the  British taxpayer upwards of £2000 to clean the moat of his country estate.

Grantham Uncut

Incidentally Grantham’s Hospital’s 24 hour A&E department service was severely reduced in August due to staffing problems at neighbouring hospitals.

Ultra Nepotist Lectures Diversity

Charlotte’s mother Sarah Hogg joined the Financial Conduct Authority board in April 2016

Here she is speaking at a Business Department Select Committee on Executive Pay and Diversity in the Boardroom.

She opens by stating that she is a member of the Takeover Panel, Lead Independent Director of HM Treasury and a non executive director of John Lewis Partnership (since 2011).

Is it right for public institutions in a so called democracy to be run by such a tiny clique?

I wonder what HSBCFraud whistleblower Nicholas Wilson has to say about these FCA, Bank of England, Treasury, and John Lewis connections?

After all John Lewis Partnership Credit Cards are run by HSBC and they’ve made a lot of money defrauding their customers.

According to her CV, Charlotte Hogg was also on the board of BBC Worldwide from 2010 to 2013.

From 2002 to 2010 Sarah Hogg was Chairman of 3i, the Bank of England founded private equity firm that bought Barclays’ highly lucrative PFI Infrastructure business in 2013.

But Barclays and 3i were already collaborating on University PFI projects under Sarah Hogg’s 3i Chairmanship.

Hogg was able to draw on the knowledge and contacts she had built up when pioneering PFI at John Major’s Policy Unit.

Their joint venture eventually became University Partnerships Programme (UPP) — now known to be rip off merchants who market and lobby for increased student debt under the guise of enhanced choice and high quality student experience :

It turns out that Hogg was first recruited for the Chief Operating Officer role at the Bank of England by Virginia Bottomley’s headhunting firm.

Former Health Minister Bottomley is current Health Minster Jeremy Hunt’s Aunt.

So there you are. A very brief tour of the Hogg’s interests.

Below are a few more articles about Charlotte Hogg.

Guardian Piece from 2013 on Charlotte Hogg’s Connections

 

More on the débâcle:

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Telegraph thoroughly defrauds its readers over RBS – again

The Financial Conduct Authority has accused Sunday Telegraph journalists Ben Martin and James Quinn of attempting to launder RBS’s reputation despite several reports by Buzzfeed, The Times, The Daily Telegraph, and BBC Newsnight, of RBS’s rampant and widespread criminal behaviour.  

RBS knowingly missappropriated its SME customers’ assets to improve its capital ratio and meet regulatory requirements in what the banks executives themselves referred to as their own ‘dash for cash’.

The Daily Telegraph has form when it comes to lying to its readers. Former chief political correspondent Peter Oborne quit in early 2015 over its unwillingness to report accurately on HSBC fraud.

Martin and Quinn’s piece this morning gives RBS a headline and a platform with which to pretend that the GRG allegations are all false despite overwhelming evidence that RBS knowingly defrauded its SME clients.

The FCA say they are not in  a position to comment on GRG till they publish their findings. 

When that will be remains anyone’s guess.

So we have the ugly prospect of two sets of state employees continuing to score points against each other by withholding and ignoring the truth about their own involvement in withholding and ignoring the truth.

The mind boggles at the unfathomable depths to which these civil servants will plumb in order to prevent justice and transparency and protect the shadiest part of the state’s fraudulent investment portfolio.

Is it morally right to cannibalise your own citizens if you do it via the people’s de facto sovereign wealth fund?

Innocent British businessmen were sold ‘protection’ on loans they took out with the bank but unknown to them the small print stated they were on the wrong side of an unlimited downside spread bet with the bank in which they had unwittingly remortgaged the roofs over their families’ heads.

Given that fraud is the banking industry’s business model all this should not come as a surprise.