A challenge to Cameron: ASBO the bankers – or admit you’re full of hot air!

So here goes. Its well past time to stop pussy-footing around the establishment…according bankers and their hangers-on with a sycophantic respect that they have long since ceased to merit. Its time to take some real action.

Its time to ASBO the bankers.

Huh? Well, sure. What could be more anti-social, at base, than fixing the interbank interest rate. Forget all the guff being sprayed around by financial experts this week, about exactly what the practice involved. Its intent – making money for some already spoilt and over-remunerated brtats – and its result – quite possibly deepening and lengthening the recession for every other being on the planet – are pretty clear.

The law isn’t working

As action its the height of selfish anti-sociability. And yet, despite a load of rhetoric and woolly hand-wringing on the part of the authorities – David Cameron included – about heads having to roll, there is little prospect of that happening any time soon. because, for all that its consequences are far-reaching in the extreme, this is such an obscure little piece of criminality that it might turn out not to be criminal at all.

So those responsible will get a slap on their wrists – and walk from one high-powered job,taking their six or seven-figure severance packages with them, on to the next. That’sjust not on. It really isn’ton.

Funny, really, that those in authority are having such difficulty finding a punishment to fit the crime…because when it comes to some young unemployed person on a council estate who has reacted to a lifetime of disaffection and under-resourcing by kicking out at society, the response is swift, brutal: the ASBO – its a civil order, under which individuals found guilty of anti-social behaviour can have their future behaviour restricted in a way that contributes to rebalancing the social order.

Like being banned from a certain shop – or restricted to only going to a twon centre at certain hours of day or night.

Why ASBO’s fit the banking crime

OK. They are problematic. I’m not a fan of the ASBO in general. It mixes civil and criminal law in a way that is thoroughly unhelpful. They introduce the principle of hearsay into criminal proceedings. They can result in people being punished when actually they need help.

But there is a real point to this call. As the legal experts have argued so forcefully already: to bring these genius bankers to book could take months, years, if at all.

An ASBO could be imposed in very short order indeed.

Short sharp shock needed for corrupt bankers

And, for a government that responded to rioting youth last year by explaining in the sternest terms how necessary it was to send a signal to rebellious youth – a short, sharp shock designed to deter repeat offending, this would do the trick, in more ways than one.

Imposing ASBO’s on members of a class that expect deference would go a long way to proving that in the UK, there is not just one law for us, one law for the rich and powerful. By banning these individuals from working in the banking or financial services industry for five years, we might, just, for oncemake the punishment fit the crime.

And at the highest level of all, by joining in the call to ASBO the individuals concerned, the Prime Minister, the government would be, as they are happy to do in other circumstances, giving out a message, which is roughly this. That they are prepared to put their money where their mouth is…that they are prepared to come down hard on the fionancial hooligans that have done such damage to the fabric of UK society and worse, have trashed the reputation of british banking across the world.

In the end, it feels like this is almost the only avenue left for government to prove it is on the side of the peopleagainst the financers – and to prove to the rest of the world that British banking is sufficiently regulated that other nations can have confidence banking here.

Please sign the petition.

jane xx

8 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    Natacha said,

    ASBOs?! It is time senior bankers did some extended porridge. That would concentrate minds for the future.

    Let’s face it, if this bunch of crooks in suits are banged up, and surcharged into penury, that would give the economy 10-20 years without them on the streets to screw it up again.

  2. 2

    Jane said,

    What a load of absolute nonsense, firstly the regulators both here and the UK should carry out their investigations in to the whole situation before anything is done and we should wait until that report is published.

    This whole demonising people is the quickest way to ensure that no criminal trial is ever brought about; as how can you ensure that a fair trial is ever held if the media and press are out there saying these people are all guilty. They are not guilty of anything until a court of law and a jury of their peers finds them such.

    There is a principle of international law that everyone is innocent until proven guilty, and with actions like this and alike you are basically violating that right; a right that is enshrined in British Law under the Human Rights Act. If I were to advise these people right now I would be strongly looking at putting in a claim that any trial can’t be fair due to a violation of article 6.

    • 3

      janefae said,

      Sorry, but no. The issue here…it has come up before when we’ve crossed swords- is that you take a very legalistic view of the law…whereas i see the law as being situated within a political context. As i just wrote on a separate post, there is a clear political message being sent out by the governments sloth over this issue…which is that if you riot or set fire to stuff, you will feel the full weight of the law, at express speed, with jails specially oppened and courts sitting all night, while if you commit a crime or indeed anti-soicial behaviour at this level, the world and its tory wife will fall over backwards explaining how peeps need to understand what went on before anything whatsoever gets done.

      If i am wrong about the use of an ASBO here, please explain why. However, the “joy” of the ASBO seems to be that it is almost infinitely flexible. It got used in Northampton to criminalise someone not for behaviour that was potentially criminal…but actually very ordinary: cross-dressing.

      So if an ASBO can be used for that, how come it can’t be used to deal with what is widely regarded as highly immoral and others=wise very anti-social behaviour by bankers.

      And if it can be used in that context, how come the authorities haven’t even mooted it.

      What i am seeing here is political class-ism of the highest order. Ordinary council estate “yobs” have an offence specially devised for them. Its called an ASBO, and it carries its very own cahet of shame. But bankers? Why, no. We couldn’t possibly apply THAT law to them because…well, because we couldn’t.

      Which is why this debate now is NOT a legal debate, but apolitical one.

      jane x

  3. 4

    Circadian said,

    What a wonderful idea! Slap a bunch of ASBOs on them, ban them from all car dealerships that sell vehicles at greater than 30k GBP, enforce orders making them be home by 19:00 and not leave until 07:00.
    And when they think that at least they still get to keep their jobs, let the FSA (or successor) inform them that as they have an ASBO they fail the “fit person” test to be allowed to work in banking.
    (To make them more wiling to accept this, might be worth mentioning that there is an older law that may be applicable in this case. For the temerity of working against the country, and sabotage of its financial systems – treason!)

    • 5

      Jane said,

      It wouldn’t be treason as that is a direct attempt to take the life of the Monarch or those next in line for the throne. You are thinking of sedition which is to undermine the legal system of the state; however as a criminal offence in the UK was repealed by Gordon Brown back in 2010. You have to love him, the man that let the banks do this and then repealed the law that would probably have been easiest to prosecute them under. It makes you wonder just what he knew and who told him what.

  4. 6

    emma said,

    Aren’t Cameron and his £1M-club those most deserving an ASBO?

    ( http://www.guardian.co.uk/money/cartoon/2011/may/26/cabinet-millionaires )

  5. 7

    Robyn said,

    I’m no lawyer, but I find the argument that the Fraud Act, 2006 can’t be used against Barclays because there is no victim an interesting one. If only because it would force case law to further define a fraud victim, which in itself is slightly ironic, because the Fraud Act was introduced to make it easier to prosecute fraud. Having said that, if one is to dishonestly make a gain somebody has to have lost out…somehow.

    Now, to demonstrate that a little bit of knowledge really is a dangerous thing, but I am going to stick to matters that are already in the public domain…

    Are we dangerously close to judging the matter before all the facts have come to light? Hindsight is a wonderful thing, in the press today it has been reported that Bob Diamond effectively said that his traders behaved a “little bit dishonestly” because they only affected LIBOR by basis points (1/1000 of 1%). Apart from considering the effect of such small changes in LIBOR on unimaginable amounts of money, does the public admission of dishonesty remove the need for the court to apply the Ghosh test which applies both a subjective and an objective test to determine whether an action was dishonest. I’m not sure there are levels of dishonesty though, a little bit dishonest is still, well, dishonest.

    The facts of the matter (as far as Barclays are concerned) are well documented in the FSA’s findings document. As usual it is a “reet riveting read”(!). Barclays were found to have breached principles 2, 3, and 5 of the FSA’s principles for business in that it didn’t:
    conduct its business with due skill, care and diligence;
    organise and control its affairs responsibly and effectively, with adequate risk management systems; and
    observe proper standards of market conduct.

    Section 2 of the fraud act covers false representation, §9 of the findings document states that “It was inappropriate for Barclays to make US dollar LIBOR and EURIBOR submissions which took its Derivatives Traders’ positions (or the positions of traders at other banks) into account” because the definition of the rates excluded derivative positions. in §11 we’re told that “Barclays could have benefitted from this misconduct” and that “Where Barclays acted in concert with other banks, the risk of manipulation increased materially”, so there we have the gain…but who was/were the victims? The FSA tells us that any gain Barclays would have made would have been “to the detriment of other market participants”.

    In mitigation Barclays appeared to believe that their behaviour was condoned by the BBA (§125) who publish LIBOR. It is telling that in conversations with the FSA during this period that Barclays hid the true nature of it’s behaviour (§127). I also find it slightly disingenuous that Barclays believe that senior officials in the Bank of England knew what was happening both at Barclays and at other banks – this smacks of desperation whilst acknowledging that moral and ethical compasses had been mislaid.

    In §133 we’re told that Barclays issued a misleading press release indicating that it had been honest in all it’s submissions. Proof, if any were needed, that individuals at the FSA do have a sense of humour can be found in §135 where it is drily noted that “Barclays’ press briefing did not fully reflect its approach to determining its LIBOR submissions during the financial crisis”.

    The fine clearly indicates that Barclays’ got it wrong, big time. What we’re missing though is a victim (or victims). the FSA allude to potential losses, and Barclays are setting up a fund where they will compensate any trading partner that can demonstrate a loss. I still can’t get my head around the fact that we need a victim where it has been clearly shown that Barclays people knew their actions would be wrong (mens rea) yet still did them (actus reus), do we really need a victim for a crime to have taken place?

    If, as has been asserted by the press, these were actions performed by maverick employees protecting their bonuses, then Barclays was the victim. If, as asserted by the FSA, that it was behaviour encouraged by corporate ethos then the market was the victim.

    It’s taken the FSA a long time to get to this point, as I understand it they have passed their evidence onto the SFO.

  6. 8

    Helen said,

    The petition doesn’t appear to have been read through, or spell checked ?


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