10 Mar 2009

When a gag becomes a get-out clause

I had dinner last night with a private equity guy who is still in the money. Interesting entity. He tipped me to something I had not thought about.

He told me what I should have guessed – that all these Goodwins, Stevensons, Hornbys and the rest who ran the now busted British banks, may well have signed gagging orders at the moment they received their pay-offs and pensions, designed to prevent them talking about anything significant that happened on their watch at the banks.

I have asked, without success, for interviews from many of those implicated in the the failures of the British banking system. What I had not thought, though, and what no-one has said in response, is that if they wanted to keep their pay-offs, they couldn’t and wouldn’t have spoken anyway.

Let’s be clear on this: the banks can surely only lose if these people open up on anything – from their own pay to their role in what happened to the banks. This serves the men well. It may be that it also helps the banks to cover up the true extent of what happened and who else is to blame.

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