The Tory Party has just conspired to give their friends in the Banking sector a complete ‘Get out of Jail card free’ for life.
If we ever had any doubts that the Tories are the party of the bloated criminal plutocrats in the financial sector, we only have to look at the wording of an obscure section of a new banking law that was very quietly pushed through Parliament this week.
They have routinely failed to investigate any banking crime committed by the Organised banking mafias, and none of their senior money launderers have gripped the rail at the Old Bailey.
They have continued to allow billions of pounds worth of dirty foreign money to flood into the City of London without requiring any routine ‘Know Your Customer’ checks being undertaken.
Now, the Tories have very neatly sidelined what should have been a most effective crackdown on fat-cat bank bosses who connive at reckless criminal tactics within their institutions, enabling them to pad their profits and increase their already obscenely inflated bonuses.
Labour and Lib Dem peers joined together to voice their fury after the move which was slipped almost silently into an obscure new banking law . The change is being moved in the small print of the 60-page Bank of England Bill and may still be challenged in the House of Lords.
The aim of the new law was to put the responsibility for proper control of banking systems and bank employees firmly on the shoulders of bank executives, thus making it their direct responsibility if later wrong-doing was uncovered in their institution.
It would have meant that prosecutors could have had little difficulty in deciding who was responsible for failing to prevent the crimes taking place.
The proposed new law said managers should be held to account for all rule-breaking by their employees - and they would only escape punishment if they proved they had done all they could to stop it.
You may recall the background to this new law, which was the evidence of massive criminality in the banking sector which was given to a Parliamentary Committee, but for which no employee or executive could be found to be liable for its commission.
As a result, the Tory Government, under David Cameron and George Osborne determined, to pass legislation which would remedy that lacuna in the law. There was much talk of concern, and being seen to be tough on the causes of financial crime. Cameron and Osborne needed to be seen to be standing tall and talking tough on City crime at that time, because the impacts of the policies of austerity were beginning to be felt very hard across the country.
But the law, passed by MPs in 2013, is now being repealed just weeks before it was due to come into force in March.
The City institutions and their weasel-worded PR agencies have been quietly lobbying Government, saying how unfair it would be if the burden of proof of innocence was forced on to the shoulders of those accused of the wrong-doing.
There has been a lot of blather talked about ‘natural justice’, The Bill of Rights, ‘Magna Carta’, and any number of other arguments that well-heeled City lawyers can be paid even more money to identify.
But none of it amounts to a row of beans.
The new law stated that managers should be held to account for all rule-breaking by their employees - and would only escape punishment if they proved they had done all they could to stop it.
In other words, instead of allowing senior bankers to wash their hands of all responsibility for the wrong-doing carried on by their employees, wrong-doing which was contributing in no small way to the bottom line of the bank’s profits, and thereby, to the bonuses of the directors, the law would have required them to prove what they did to ensure that wrong-doing could not be carried out.
You might not think that this was too onerous a requirement, after all, it is inherent in their role as directors, and is part of the fiduciary duties of care that they owe the bank and its shareholders as directors, so they would only have been required to prove what they should otherwise have been doing anyway.
But in the Alice in Wonderland world of the City of London and its banking class, such burdens were felt to be unfair to the overpaid Mafiosi who run our banks. It was argued this was requiring the bankers to prove their own innocence, a feature as many well-heeled and well-fatted QCs opined was contrary to English Common law.
Well, not really, since 1953, anyone found carrying an offensive weapon has been required to prove that he had it with him for a lawful purpose. But this law was designed to deal with oiks and yobs and the lower orders without the law, so no-one gave a toss that they were being required to prove their own innocence.
But when it comes to bankers and the untouchable protected species, different rules must be seen to apply.
So, Instead of bank bosses having to prove they did enough to stop rule-breaking, the regulators will now have to prove they did not.
That will shift the 'burden of proof' from bankers themselves to organisations like the Financial Conduct Authority, making it more expensive to pursue high-salaried bosses.
Lib Dem Baroness Kramer accused "outrageous" George Osborne of "buckling to pressure from his friends in the banks" - and warned it could allow bosses to turn a blind eye to another LIBOR rate-rigging scandal.
"People are no longer talking about the banks so the Tories think they can go easy on them’ she said.
"The government claims the rule will make it hard to hire good people. They've obviously been in conversation with the banks to come up with statements like that."
Of course, why didn’t we think of that ourselves?. ‘Good people’ ie, previously experienced criminal bankers will know about the new law so may be wary of putting themselves in harm’s way.
Of course, keeping dodgy bankers out of the top jobs might be thought to be a very good thing, but again, not in the world of the City and Canary Wharf!
The Tories have clearly quickly forgotten their much vaunted promises about going after the guilty men and making sure that the City of London is a clean place to do business in.
Susan Kramer again;
"It is as if they have already forgotten about the 2008 crash, Libor fixing or any one of the other scandals that cost the taxpayer billions.
"Senior managers in our banks should not be allowed to wash their hands of failings. Ignorance is not an excuse when our economy and British livelihoods are on the line."
This is the mendacioius Tory politicians all over, and Baroness Kramer is right, but sadly, her views will not carry much weight in the City or in the Carlton Club. The Tories know on which side of their bread to spread the butter, and that will only come from their friends in the financial sector who want to be able to bring as much dirty money into this country as possible, but without having to demonstrate any personal responsibility for its handling.
This is why I say that we cannot trust this Government to tell us the truth on their dealing with banking crime. They are making too much money out of its commission. Oh they will huff and puff when it is necessary so to do, and they will say all the right things to get their lickspittle friends in the media to write them good headlines when they need them, but then, when the hue and cry has died down, they will quietly renege on their public agreements and simply not carry out their agreed promises.
This is why I say they are complicit in the commission of banking crime. They know only too well what their shiny suited friends in the City are capable of doing, and by repealing important aspects of much trumpeted laws, even before they have been given a chance to work in practice, they are conspiring with the City Mafias to commit even more crime.
The usual Civil Service bromides have been trotted out to justify this appalling breach of faith.
A Treasury spokesman said: "The government has taken concerted action to improve conduct across the banking sector and deal with the abuses and unacceptable behaviour of the past.
"We've introduced the toughest rules on bankers’ pay of any major financial centre, and hardwired responsibility and accountability into the financial system, with those senior managers responsible for bringing down banks facing up to seven years in prison.
(Well, these rules have already been watered down to such an extent that they are illusory and will never be promulgated).
"We are extending the Senior Managers & Certification regime so that tough standards of personal responsibility and accountability apply beyond banking and across the entire financial services industry.
"This will ensure that all financial services firms in Britain operate to the highest standards."
And if you believe this pile of 24 carat tosh, you will believe anything!
George Osborne and David Cameron have just sent their banking friends the clearest message that it is ‘business as usual’.
So fill your boots boys, because this government ain’t gonna come after you!