Monday, 2 July 2012

weasel's dilemma


Is there any way the bank-rate-fixing thing is not a crime? It seems that it has to be fraud, right? If you lie and collude in such a way as to make a fortune, someone must be paying that fortune, so you must be defrauding them? If this is not the case, please tell me.

Anyway. Let's assume it is. There is this big fine, but I think the people responsible should go to court and get criminal records. This isn't vindictiveness or having a Show Trial mentality - it's simply thinking that this is an appropriate punishment for the crime, and one which will, in the circles the bankers move in, have a serious deterrent effect. (Or so the various bankers I happen to know lead me to believe.)

Let's assume that there are dozens of colluding bankers. Seems a reasonable assumption given the scale of effort needed to fix this rate. Here is a solution which feels to me as if it would work, but may sound adorably naive.

Problem: the bankers are really rich and highly-motivated to avoid punishment. They can afford massively bigger legal teams than we can.

Possible solution: they are pretty weaselly. Speaking as a top police consultant, I would find some individuals where there is a clear wrongdoing paper-trail. I would sit them down and explain the situation. I would say that I want them to sing like canaries, and in return they won't have to serve time. Do you reckon they'll be brave and all honour-among-thieves? I don't.

Then, when the names are named, I would tell all the names that they can get lesser sentences for admitting the crime. What I want, at as little cost as possible, is a load of guilty fraudsters to be found publicly guilty and get criminal records. Go to jail maybe, for a salutary couple of months and to give the canaries a reason for singing, but I don't really care. I am not vindictive. But I am angry.

What is the hole in this. People who think this kind of solution is adorably naive are in charge of not prosecuting. And the people who make this decision are overwhelmingly friends of or related to bankers. It's not a conspiracy or cabal. It's more insidious than that - it's just hard to think your mates are doing something criminal as part of their job because all their colleagues are also doing it. But that doesn't mean they are not criminals.)

Notes:
1. Bankers love game theory. That is just one reason I like the thought of this scenario.
2. I am moving my account out of Barclays. It's a tiny thing but I suddenly realised that it is what I should do. I suppose I have to go to the Co-Operative Bank? It's easy to be disapproving and never do anything about it because they're all as bad as each other, but what if there are some who aren't?

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