Why have no bankers been arrested?
The publication of the Vickers report into British banking reform sparks the question why the UK has so far failed to prosecute a single individual for his or her misdeeds during the financial meltdown of 2008.
It is now all but three years since the global financial crisis and the virtual implosion of the British banking system.
We were told at the time that the banking regulator, the FSA, had started a ‘major investigation’. Last night on Channel 4 News when I pressed the City Minister, Mark Hoban, he referred constantly to the FSA’s involvement. But where is the Serious Fraud Office? No sign of much happening on that front.
Yet investigators on both sides of the Atlantic have had no doubt that criminality, subterfuge, and downright dishonesty accompanied many of the ingredients that brought about the crash. At the very least there was gross dishonesty in the representation of exposure to the sub-prime mortgage business.
The convenient fall-guy was the Ponzi magician, Bernie Madoff who was quickly jailed for thieving billions with his criminal scheme. But Madoff had nothing to do with bringing down the banks. He’d have been jailed anyway. But his jailing served to suggest that a high profile scalp had been secured.
Last year, the then New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo produced a laundry list of institutions and individuals who were being investigated for potential prosecution. That work too has slowed.
In one month, hundreds of rioters and looters have been prosecuted and punished by the English courts, often for offences with a value of under fifty pounds. Yet the threat to the wellbeing of UKplc was far greater from the bankers than from any number of more arrestable rioters.
There is a strong impression abroad that the UK doesn’t want to prosecute anyone for the banking crisis, a crisis that has affected every tax payer in the Kingdom.
Soon enough the statute of limitations will kick in to ensure that no-one will ever be prosecuted for their role.
Then we can all breathe easy – no banker will ever go to jail, and we can stop asking the nightly question, ‘why not?’
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