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.

Big Crooks and Little Crooks

Today’s story is a tale of Big Crooks and Little Crooks. The morale of the story is that if you have to be a crook be a big crook, preferably the biggest crook, because that way you are almost certain to escape punishment and it is unlikely that you will be deprived of some at least of your ill gotten gains. Continue reading

The Banker’s Exemption From the Criminal Law

It is better to use short words instead of long phrases. We should not call spades agricultural implements and we should not call fraud  serious misconduct. However, if you a fraudster operating in the banking system, organising large scale deceptions your chances of being prosecuted are so low that I do not think I can compute them.

There are so many examples of this, that I stand in pause to know where I should first begin, but I shall simply mention the sale by all the major UK banks of interest rate hedging products to small and medium sized businesses. Continue reading

Secret Swaps

Another, yes another banking scandal is emerging. After the PPI mis selling (or fraud to use a more accurate description) to individuals and after the sale of interest rate hedging products scandal to medium sized businesses scandal, it has now emerged that the banks were selling secret swaps to customers. What they did was this: they agreed fixed rate loans with customers which customers wanted to protect themselves from future interest rate rises. That is fair enough; a customer makes a decision on wanting a fixed and floating rate, and if the customer opts for a fixed rate that is what the customer expects to get, but expectation and reality are two different things in the world of banking. Continue reading

Mr Duran’s Borrowings

Up until 2008 banks in the developed world were in the mood to lend money. They generally did not ask too many questions and wanted to grow quickly and make a great deal of money for the bankers who ran them and also as an afterthought for their shareholders. Continue reading