I Miss Albums

New long playing albums are as rare as hen’s teeth. Over the years LPs morphed into compact discs which in turn morphed into downloads and that is a shame. Continue reading

Nice Work If You Can Get it

The latest scandal affecting the House of Lords is nothing unusual nor is it in itself a reason to change the constitutional arrangements to reform this appointed un-elected body of cronies of elected politicians. There are plenty of scandals that affect elected chambers; humans are weak frail and full of hubris so it is not surprising when scandals emerge. The reason to abolish the House of Lords is that it is simply undemocratic.  Continue reading

On Freedom

Many people in this nation think that they are free, but they are mistaken. Our laws bind us very tightly, as do our circumstances. Believing that the acquisition of wealth will make you free is foolish. It will simply replace one set of restrictions with another set of restrictions. The cords that bind us when severed produce new cords, like the hydra, in a never ending mass of bindings.  Continue reading

On Work

When I was young, many years ago, I thought it best not to work too hard and if possible should spend days in pleasure. Subsequently I worked very hard and enjoyed working even though work makes us weary. Continue reading

Earth Abides and the Problems of Things that are Finite

I see our good mother earth in some difficulties these days. her oceans will soon contain more plastic than fish; (I use “soon” not in the sense that humans understand the word, but in the sense the earth understands it). Its atmosphere will soon contain so much heat insulating carbon dioxide that species will have to adapt to a hot climate or become extinct. There will soon be so many humans on earth that they will themselves will have to ration humanity and its proclivities or perish. These are the problems of the things that are finite. Continue reading

The Best and Worst of Times

It can be hard to make sense of the world at the best of times and even harder to make sense of it in the worst of times. Charles Dickens wrote that the best of times and the worst of times happened simultaneously, along with belief, incredulity, wisdom, foolishness, light, darkness, hope and despair. Perhaps he was right but it seems more likely to me that these things happen in different times in different measures in different places.  Continue reading

First be a Bank!

The Financial Conduct Authority is the United Kingdom’s regulator of financial services. It is supposed to regulate the financial services industry and prosecute wrong doers and thus protect users of financial services.

The FCA has a reasonable record in prosecuting some financial crime, but no interest in prosecuting other financial crime. The FCA’s decision to prosecute seems to depend on the status of the alleged wrong doer.

If you are an individual suspected of financial breach of regulations you will likely feel the full force of the FCA’s investigation, whether you actually committed any crime or not. The FCA will obtain freezing orders from the court, freezing all assets while an investigation, which may take several years, proceeds. That in itself is uncomfortable; a civilised society should ensure that justice proceeds swiftly, and not subject citizens to procedures which are tantamount to punishment without trial.

If a bank is suspected of wrong doing it seems that they have immunity from prosecution, as far as the FCA is concerned. There is a lobby organisation called “Bully Banks” who are seeking to protect those small businesses that trusted their banks and bought Interest Rate Hedge Products from those banks on the advice of their banks. I have written about such products elsewhere on this blog, and I have acted on several cases for clients that have needed to claim compensation from Banks for such products. It is usual to describe such products as being mis-sold, but in fact mis-selling is simply a polite way of describing a fraudulent operation by the banks in relation to these IRHPs.

At the recent FCA Annual General meeting Bully-Banks’ Chairman asked three questions:

  1. What is the aggregate of fines paid by the banks following their deliberate and systematic breaches of regulations? The answer was zero.
  2. How many sales people guilty of multiple mis-selling of IRHPs have had their status as “approved persons” cancelled? The answer was none.
  3. How many bank personnel have been prosecuted under s. 397 of the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000? The answer was none.

So it seems that if you want to mis-sell or fraudulently sell financial products you should first be a bank.

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