Understanding financial criminals – Why ‘Shredded’ must become compulsory reading!
Ian Fraser’s new book ‘Shredded – Inside RBS – The bank that broke Britain’ should become required reading for every civil servant at H.M.Treasury, for every apparatchik in the FCA, and for every politician whose brief engages with the City.
Ian lashes out with fists crammed with facts, and his book leaves a wide variety of players badly bruised and with reputations seriously diminished!
When I was a detective at the Fraud Squad at New Scotland Yard, I had many opportunities to investigate and evaluate the attitudes and business morality of City bankers and other financial practitioners.
Between the years 1979 to 1986 I investigated the affairs of dishonest men (almost exclusively) who believed that their positions in the City hierarchy made them immune from the ordinary implications of the criminal law.
I also had a lot of dealings with civil servants, mainly from the Department of Trade and Industry, and I was constantly appalled by the lack of practical knowledge of the ways of criminals that they brought to their role as regulators of the financial sector.
I was shocked by their arrogance, their insouciance, and the way that they believed that they were an all-knowing source and fount of expertise, when in so many cases, they were totally incompetent.
I rapidly came to the conclusion that one of the reasons that so much crime flourished in the financial sector was because the practitioners themselves believed that they were above the law and would not be prosecuted, while those who existed to regulate their activities, were largely useless and shockingly incompetent, but who knew that if they waited long enough, and didn’t rock the boat, a job would be found for them in the financial community in the longer term.
Too many people in the DTI regulatory divisions had become subject to a phenomenon called ‘Regulator Capture’, in which a cosy relationship was allowed to develop between regulator and institution, and an unspoken agreement existed whereby both sides knew that in return for studied non-intervention, employment rewards awaited the compliant regulator!
Anyone who has worked in the financial sphere for any time has known these features. Anyone who has worked in the regulatory environment has seen the corrupt and corrosive atmosphere they inculcate, and the wrong-doing that is allowed to proliferate.
I have worked in this sphere for many years and I have seen all these phenomena and more, and, as each new bank scandal, criminal act, scam and rip-off went by unmolested, I had begun to despair that there would ever be a proper denouncing of the whole rotten edifice.