As I type this sentence Bob Diamond is in charge of Barclays Bank. A job for which he was paid – including bonuses – £20.9m in 2011. Simple logic dictates that this is a travesty. Either Bob Diamond knew about the LIBOR abuse, which financially benefited his organisation, or was responsible for a management system that didn’t properly audit what was occurring with vast sums of money.
Freddy Sheppard was the rouge banker. A flashy Icarus whose excessive taste for risk led to RBS to pursue objectives beyond its status, thus crash and burn. When ‘the Shred’ was sent to Coventry, or to be more accurate the Scottish wilderness, the ‘masters of the universe’ ejected their bravado. But they still maintain their sense of detached superiority. This weeks evidence shows that the UK’s top bankers have not understood the meaning of the words “accountability” and “responsibility”. Apparently the financial elite still believe that rules and standards that apply to us mortals – in this instance fraud – do not need to concern their activity.
Last year Bob Diamond told MPs that the time for bankers to be remorseful and apologetic was over. He was right. It is now time for the upper-echelons of our capitalist system to show how they are a part of society and how society is a part of them. Financiers who do not wish complicate their work with such concerns are welcome to move to other jurisdictions.