Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Banksters are not above the law

For the benefit of the many new readers coming to this Blog, I opened it with the following statement, primarily directed at 'Multi-Level Marketing income opportunity' racketeers. However, this criminogenic phenomenon is only one, albeit extreme, result of a much wider-cancer in human culture:

In 1945, whilst most, contemporary mainstream commentators were unable to look beyond the ends of their noses, with a perfect sense of irony, George Orwell (1903-1950) presented fact as fiction in an insightful 'fairy story' entitled, 'Animal Farm.' He revealed that totalitarianism is merely the oppressors' fiction mistaken for fact by the oppressed. In the same universal allegory, Orwell described how, at a time of vulnerability, almost any people's dream of a future, secure, Utopian existence can be hung over the entrance to a totalitarian deception. Indeed, the words that are always banished by totalitarian deceivers are, 'totalitarian' and 'deception.' Sadly, when it comes to examining the same enduring phenomenon, albeit with an ephemeral 'American/Capitalist' label, most contemporary, mainstream commentators have again been unable to look further than the ends of their noses. However, if they followed Orwell's example, and did some serious thinking, this is the reality-inverting nightmare they would find.

Although at the end of 'Animal Farm,' the socialist pigs are indistinguishable from human capitalists, I'm sure that had George Orwell lived longer, he would eventually have found it necessary to clarify his thoughts and write a sequel to 'Animal Farm' entitled: 'Animal Corporation.' In this, the sharply-dressed, smooth-talking pigs would condemn their past 'collective socialist plans' whilst persuading the poor, miserable and enslaved animals that they should now take out a variable-rate-interest loan from the new free-market 'Piggy Bank' (plus Payment Protection Insurance) and blindly-follow a revolutionary new '2-5 year collective business plan' to become 'prosperous, happy and free.'

If George Orwell's universal allegory has a moral, then it is as follows: You can always tell when any greedy pig of a dictator is lying, because his lips are moving. 
Unfortunately, there is more than just a grain of truth in the original version of the same joke: How can you tell when a lawyer is lying?

The legal representatives of Barclays Bank (some of whom, I would hazard a guess, are former senior law enforcement agents) have already made an early strategic 'settlement' with the US Dept. of Justice, in which the Bank itself has agreed to co-oporate-fully, and has paid a huge amount of cash, to avoid criminal prosecution. However, this paid-for corporate immunity apparently does not extend outside of the USA or to individual employees of Barclays and corporate officers. Consequently, the UK Serious Fraud Office and the US Dept. of Justice, both have ongoing criminal investigations into the 'rate fixing' scandal, but these proceedings are not limited to Barclays Bank.

It would appear that we have again arrived at a point in history where financial crimes against humanity are in the process of being uncovered on a scale which is way too big for the average law enforcement agent even to contemplate, let alone prosecute, but then, they are not paid to think beyond the narrow limits of their remit. However, it should never be forgotten that the 'Wall Street Crash' of 1929 and subsequent world economic depression (which were caused by the unfettered-greed of an arrogant minority who were unaccountable to the powerless majority), led to the rise of 'Nazism' and, ultimately, produced WWII. In recent years, the attitude of governments and financial regulators has been to try to maintain confidence in the financial system at all costs. When given the choice between dishonour and chaos, our current crop of leaders has chosen dishonour, but we will again have chaos.

At first glance, some of the dishonourable excuses which were initially put forward by legally-qualified commentators as to why bankers cannot be successfully prosecuted for fraud in England in 2012, can seem quite plausible. 

Perhaps the most absurd, but nonetheless dishonourable, excuses are Orwellian in nature:
  • major criminal fraud investigations, and prosecutions, are far too long and expensive
  •  jurors are unable to understand the legal complexities of major fraud trials 

Other excuses have their foundation in the restricted wording of the Fraud Act 2006. This legislation gives a statutory definition of the criminal offence of fraud in three classes 
'Fraud by false representation' is defined by Section 2 of the Act as a case where a person makes 'any representation as to fact or law ... express or implied which they know to be untrue or misleading.'
'Fraud by failing to disclose information' is defined by Section 3 of the Act as a case where a person 'fails to disclose any information to a third party when they are under a legal duty to disclose such information.'
'Fraud by abuse of position' is defined by Section 4 of the Act as a case where a person 'occupies a position where they are expected to safeguard the financial interests of another person, and abuses that position; this includes cases where the abuse consisted of an omission rather than an overt act.'
In all three classes of fraud, it requires that for an offence to have occurred, the person must have 'acted dishonestly,' and that they had to have 'acted with the intent of making a gain for themselves or anyone else, or inflicting a loss (or a risk of loss) on another.'
When examined in splendid isolation, it could be quite difficult to prove beyond all reasonable doubt that any boss of the banking fraternity (although he/she might have benefited-massively) had prior knowledge that subordinates were committing fraud. Thus, if bank bosses stand up in court and all sing from the same 'honestly, we were completely ignorant about rate-fixing your Honour,' hymn-sheet, they might possibly be in the clear. However (by the same token), if just one of them admits that he/she knew what was occurring at the time it was occurring, or if whistle-blowing subordinates have the courage to come forward (particularly, with material evidence), then all of them risk conviction (and not just for fraud). The fact that bank bosses have not voluntarily offered to hand back their own gains (even though they now accept that their banks' profits were partly the product of a chronic manipulation of financial markets), also says plenty. 

Blog readers should note that the UK Fraud Act does not yet attempt specifically to define 'organized fraud,' i.e. where particularly-devious persons create, and/or subvert corporate structures pursuing lawful, and unlawful, enterprises (with the clandestine purpose of committing one, or all, of the above frauds) in order to prevent, and/or divert, investigation and isolate themselves from liability. In England there is no legislation which attempts specifically to define racketeering. However, there is criminal legislation which specifically defines conspiracy to obstruct justice and conspiracy to commit fraud. Futhermore, any British politician who now foolishly-sides with the banksters (or even sits on the fence), will become un-electable. 

It would seem that this time banksters have gone too far; for in turning a blind-eye whilst their subordinates regularly fixed key borrowing-rates, they have effectively stolen from virtually everyone on the planet with a variable-rate loan. The approximate total value of the financial contracts affected by the Libor rate, runs into the hundreds of trillions of dollars. The first press-exposure of the scandal (by a Reuters journalist, Carrick Mollenkamp), dates back to 2OO8 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XB3v5-P9-Ak&feature=plcp. However, at that time, the story took a back seat to the liar-loans scandal and the economic crisis. Therefore, when Bob Diamond recites his obstructive bankster fairytale and insists that until very recently he was completely unaware of the extensive falsification of the Libor rate, he is lying.

A large section of the public (even though not legally-qualified) has already applied common-sense and fully-understood what banksters like Bob Diamond have been doing, and how they have been getting away with it.

Indeed, it might now be very difficult to find a juror (or even a judge) who is not also a direct, or indirect, bankster victim. No doubt some well-paid lawyer will be putting that feeble excuse forward as a valid legal argument not to prosecute his/her pin-striped employers. 

David Brear (copyright 2012

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