I"m not a Leftie bank-basher, but why on earth has no one been jailed for their criminality?

I'm not a Leftie bank-basher, but why on earth has no one been jailed for their criminality

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UPDATED:

23:51 GMT, 19 December 2012

One voice: When David Crausby rose to his feet during Prime Minister's Question Time, he spoke on behalf of the nation

One voice: When David Crausby rose to his feet during Prime Minister's Question Time, he spoke on behalf of the nation

When a little-known Labour MP yesterday rose to his feet during Prime Minister’s Question Time, he spoke on behalf of the nation.

David Crausby pointed out that when the Great Train Robbers stole 2.5 million, they were banged up in prison for a very long time.

/12/19/article-2250796-0AA992AA000005DC-520_634x342.jpg” width=”634″ height=”342″ alt=”Departures: Former HSBC chief executive, Lord Green, presided over the wrongdoing following the mega-bank's fine – though there is no suggestion he was in the know” class=”blkBorder” />

Departures: Former HSBC chief executive, Lord Green, presided over the wrongdoing following the mega-bank's fine – though there is no suggestion he was in the know

Lord Green’s new job is as Britain’s Trade Minister. Believe it or not, he is an ordained Anglican priest who in 2009 wrote a pious-sounding book called Good Value: Reflections On Money, Morality And An Uncertain World. To which my response is: pull the other one.

Obviously I could go on. It was reported last week that the British bank Standard Chartered will be fined 203 million following allegations that it violated U.S. sanctions against Iran, Sudan, Libya and Burma. This is in addition to an earlier 141 million fine.

I haven’t even mentioned the greed, hubris and incompetence that precipitated the worst financial crisis for 80 years and which, according to one calculation, has cost every man, woman and child in this country some 20,000 in bailouts and loans. No one can say how much of this we will ever get back.

Please don’t think I am a Leftie banker-basher. My elder son, of whom I am very proud, is an investment banker, as is my oldest friend.

We need a vibrant and creative banking sector separate from bread-and-butter retail banks — but we don’t need or want bankers who fix markets, stuff their pockets and break the law.

Aware: According to the Financial Services Authority, Libor manipulation at UBS was common knowledge

Aware: According to the Financial Services Authority, Libor manipulation at UBS was common knowledge

Too many people in our massive global banks have suspended their moral judgments in the pursuit of profit at any cost.

When criticised for leeching off the taxpayer or paying themselves vast bonuses, they are apt to look at you in the dazed and truculent way of spoiled children who don’t understand why they can’t have everything they want.

The big question is why the authorities in Britain — they have been much tougher in the U.S. — should have been so limp-wristed in holding erring bankers to account.

There has been no judge-led examination of banking such as the Leveson Inquiry into the Press.

The nearest thing we have got is the Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards, which is due to report tomorrow. The trouble is that its investigations have not been as thorough as Lord Justice Leveson’s — and, in the end, the Commission has no power to force change on anyone.

There has been no judge-led examination of banking such as the Leveson Inquiry into the Press

There has been no judge-led examination of banking such as the Leveson Inquiry into the Press

We have had a number of rogue journalists, whose misdemeanours led to a root-and-branch investigation of the ethics of all newspapers. A few journalists face criminal charges, and I won’t be surprised if some of them end up going to prison.

We have also had a rather larger number of rogue bankers, whose arguably much more corrosive misbehaviour hasn’t occasioned any kind of public inquiry.

Most people, I submit, would think that hacking the phones of celebrities, though indefensible and despicable, is of a different order of seriousness to laundering the ill-gotten gains of Mexican drug barons or rigging an international financial market. The Government evidently thinks differently.

I have puzzled long over its reluctance to act. Is it fearful that an exhaustive public inquiry might shake confidence in a business that is already in a parlous condition Probably. Are the Tories anxious not to upset their friends and donors in the City Again, probably.

But whatever the reason, there remains a mountain of public incomprehension and bewilderment that saps social cohesion, spreads a sense of injustice and undermines people’s faith in the capitalist system. Of course it is not capitalism that is at fault, but the pigs who loaded the troughs with goodies and then buried their noses in them.

If the Serious Fraud Office were finally to bring some successful prosecutions, the public might begin to feel that at least some of the rogues were being made to pay.

But only a full-scale inquiry that forced miscreant bankers to admit the scale of their iniquities could lance people’s justified sense of resentment.

Almost every week brings new evidence of wrongdoing by another bank. Without the awareness of fault that a proper inquiry would bring, bankers will repeat their sins and — alas for this country — capitalism will go on being a dirty word.