Jail bankers immediately

Posted by Nicholas Wilson

Anti-corruption campaigner Nicholas Wilson queries why so few in the financial services sector have been prosecuted for fraud


I have a, not altogether facetious, proposal to change the law when it comes to banker fraud.

In my case many people have said “you can’t use the word fraud, they haven’t been convicted”. I don’t see why can’t use a perfectly proper term for a classic case of fraud. The HSBC fraud complies with every single category in this explanation:

Put simply, fraud is an act of deception intended for personal gain or to cause a loss to another party.

The general criminal offence of fraud can include:

  • deception wherby someone knowingly makes false representation

  • or they fail to disclose information

  • or the abuse a position.

People say that you have to prove they knew they were defrauding people (e.g. ITV News). You don’t. It is sufficient to prove that HSBC recklessly applied the charges without regard as to whether they were illegal or not. Although, of course, they did know they were illegal because I told them in 2003.

Finally, people say, if they committed fraud, you should go to the police. Yes, of course I did. Action Fraud, Serious Fraud Office and City of London Economic Crime Unit. None of them took any action.

The word fraud is not used by the press either. There was no PPI fraud, it was mis-selling. There was no Libor or Forex fraud, it was manipulating the market. The Governor of the Bank of England, Mark Carney calls it “ethical drift”.

So I propose to go further than the government, who brought in a rule recently that there must be a presumption of guilt and senior bankers had to prove otherwise (a law now quietly dropped because some HSBC staff resigned in protest/protection). I propose that top bankers should be jailed immediately there is sufficient evidence of fraud. They should then provide evidence to show if they should be granted bail. And then produce evidence to show their innocence. Their own bank can pay them compensation if they are proved innocent.

This will speed up the trial process and not allow prosecutions against bankers to drag on for years and years through the system abuses of their lawyers, as in the HBOS Reading trail.

This is not entirely a joke. I believe there is sufficient knowledge of banking practices to assume guilt. Now my thoughts turn to lawyers and accountants…


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