Saturday, 21 March 2009

Max Hastings: Seize Their Porches and Throw Them in Jail! Shameless Bankers Are Worse than Train Robbers

MAIL Online: The best suggestion of the past week about how to punish Sir Fred Goodwin is that he should be obliged to report personally at an RBS branch to collect his pension cheques. If customers do not lynch him, staff will.

But too much attention has focused on Goodwin.

Of course, he is contemptible. But he is only one among thousands of monstrously over-rewarded merchants of failure.

At least the former RBS chief executive is no longer at his desk. Almost all the others still occupy fat, padded chairs in City institutions. The time has come to address the entire robber banker culture.

Lord Turner’s impressive Financial Services Authority report this week promised an end of ‘light touch’ regulation. Turner makes plain his distaste for the City’s reward structure.

I would go much further. In dealing with the sort of people who have created a disaster which will cripple this country’s finances for decades to come, drastic sanctions will be necessary.

Statistics from America show that top executives of the seven biggest failed financial institutions have taken home $464 million in alleged performance pay since 2005, while their businesses have racked up $107 billion losses in the past two years alone.

British bankers have profited from rip-offs identical in kind, if not quite in scale.

Yet those responsible remain convinced they are entitled to seven-figure remuneration, even though it’s taxpayers who are having to stump up the money.

It is as if a man who has driven a Bentley into a brick wall demands that the manufacturer should present him with a new one, because it is the only car he is used to driving.

These bankers think they are above criticism and the lesson for us, the public, is that we need to get the boot in and keep kicking.

Only thus might we begin to change the wicked culture which has brought Western nations, Britain prominent among them, to the edge of ruin. >>> Max Hastings | Saturday, March 21, 2009

THE GUARDIAN: AIG Warns Staff to Travel in Pairs after Death Threats over Bonuses

Executives fear for safety after £115m payout / Hide firm's logo and park in lit areas, employees told

The embattled US insurance company AIG has warned its staff to travel in pairs after dark, not to wear company logos and to avoid discussing their work outside the office, as public outrage boils over at multimillion-dollar executive bonuses.

AIG's employees have been subjected to death threats since the company handed out $165m (£115m) in "retention" awards to employees in its disastrously loss-making financial products division this week.

Recipients of the bonuses said they feared for their own safety. A union-backed campaign group is today taking protesters on a bus tour of AIG executives' homes in a wealthy enclave of Connecticut known as the "gold coast".

In a leaked company-wide memo, AIG's corporate security team this week warned staff to take special precautions "due to a growing sense of public attention fuelled by increased media scrutiny".

The memo, posted on the New York website Gawker, urges staff to "avoid wearing any AIG apparel (bags, shirts, umbrellas etc) with the company insignia". It advises workers to take off identity badges when they go outside, to report the presence of any strangers, and to call the emergency services if they think they are being followed. "At night, when possible, travel in pairs and always park in well-lit areas," it reads. >>> Andrew Clark in New York | Saturday, March 21, 2009


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