December 15th, 2012
An open letter to David Cameron, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, from Mrs N Turner
Dear Mr Cameron,
I and many other people were stunned by the quotes from Mr Andrew Bailey, the chief executive-designate of the Prudential Regulation Authority, which were reported in the Daily Telegraph yesterday (December 14th, 2012).
Mr Bailey seems to have confirmed that, irrespective of their criminal actions, banks are not only “too big to fail”; they are also “too big to prosecute”. In an interview with the Telegraph, Mr Bailey said that prosecuting banks and by implication their executive and non-executive directors,
“would be a very destabilising issue. It’s another version of too important to fail. Because of the confidence issue with banks, a major criminal indictment, which we haven’t seen and I’m not saying we are going to see… this is not an ordinary criminal indictment.”
Mr Cameron, unless I am completely mistaken, Mr Bailey seems to be telling us that banks, and therefore bankers, are now officially considered to be above the law in this country and that, in the interests of confidence in the banking industry (which is already at rock bottom among the British public, and therefore can hardly sink any lower), they cannot be prosecuted.
I am writing to ask you, as Prime Minister, for some clarification.
Does your government endorse the notion that banks and bankers should be given a licence to commit criminal acts without any fear of prosecution? Is this now official government policy? Are the British public now being asked to accept that, despite incontrovertible evidence of multiple criminal acts by banks, including money-laundering, drug-money-laundering, Libor rigging, multiple frauds and assorted Ponzi schemes, bankers are considered to be immune from prosecution? And if so, can I ask on what grounds your government, or indeed the government of any democratic country, can justify such a policy?
Since this article appeared, I have spoken to several well-informed people who are so outraged by this proposition that they cannot believe Mr Bailey made this statement — the ramifications are so immense and so terrifying to the democratic process.
In his position as chief executive designate of the Prudential Regulation Authority, Mr Bailey has a duty to adhere to the FSA Principles, FSMA 2000 and, of course, the United Kingdom law. Yet it seems this legislation can be overturned without due process, without any regard to the consequences and without any regard to the fact that the regulator — if it fails in its duty to enforce FSMA or to report criminal acts to the relevant authorities — could become an accessory to the crimes it is failing to report.
There is no doubt the people of this country, having been collectively ‘mugged’ by its major financial institutions in recent years, feel completely let down by successive governments, given that the governments have:-
- Allowed the banks to fail abysmally thanks to the adoption of ‘light touch regulation’ from about 2002;
- Bailed out failed financial institutions without any enforceable conditions at a cost of scores of billions of pounds;
- Failed to bring any banker to account despite transparent misdeeds;
- Permitted bankers to continue to demand and get millions of pounds in rewards for failure while the rest of the country endures ever greater austerity measures;
- Failed via the regulators to stem the increasing rise of institutional fraud against investors and the general public.
After having been so badly let down by regulators and governments we, the people of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, had been patiently waiting for the law of the land to be applied, in the expectation that people and institutions that are guilty of criminal acts would be held accountable via the justice system. Perhaps naively, we thought that, even where other institutions had failed us, we might rely on the law and the judicial process as the cornerstone of democracy.
Mr Bailey’s statement calls this into question. He would appear to be suggesting what a few of us have long suspected – that there is, in fact, one law for the many and another one for the few. I am afraid, Mr Cameron, that such a scenario cannot work in a democracy. I have spent over five years investigating criminal activity in a major United Kingdom bank and, in April 2012, my husband and I became so concerned about the perceived ability of banks to manipulate the government and judicial processes that we wrote to the director of public prosecutions, Keir Starmer. In our letter we said:
“….People will have to question whether the Law can fulfil its primary function to protect the public – or whether it has simply become a private members’ club?”
If justice is indeed now a ‘private members’ club’, then it is to up to you, Mr Cameron, to explain this to the British public. And, as I am sure you are aware, there is a real danger that the country will descend into lawlessness if the law is unevenly applied and enforced. If you really intend proceeding down the path seemingly advocated by Mr Bailey, then you risk going down in history as the Prime Minister who did more than any other to undermine the legitimacy of the British state.
I would be grateful to receive confirmation of your government’s official position on Mr Bailey’s statement.
Mrs N Turner