Archive for Banking

Time To Make Tax Dodging Illegal

Posted in America, Britain, England, Equality, European Union, Justice, News, Parliament, Politics, UK, USA with tags , , , , on 09/02/2015 by floroy1942

You and I have to pay our taxes whether we like it or not, and if we don’t the system comes down on us hard, so how is it that the super rich are allowed to dodge paying their rightful share? The world is littered with so-called ‘Tax Havens’ where the rich stash away trillions on which they do not have to pay any tax. This just doesn’t seem right to me.

HSBCIt came out today that the HSBC bank has been actively helping clients including international criminals, corrupt businessmen, politicians and celebrities, to hide hundreds of millions of pounds in secret  off-shore accounts.

It appears that a whistle-blower gave information on 106,000 clients in 203 countries which included almost 7,000 clients from the United Kingdom. Many of the UK account holders have not declared these accounts to the tax authorities.

The bank is said to be cooperating with an investigation by the authorities in the US, France, Belgium and Argentina, but the staggering thing is, no action has so far been taken in Britain! This I find unbelievable.

Labour MP for Birmingham Ladywood Shabana Mahmood.

Labour MP for Birmingham Ladywood Shabana Mahmood.

In the House of Commons Labour MP for Birmingham Ladywood Shabana Mahmood said, “We need to understand whether actually HMRC have been putting lots of cases before the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) and it’s the CPS who’ve been refusing to prosecute and those are questions that I hope that the government will answer.” That is a question I would like to know the answer to also.

Although the HMRC received this information in 2010 they have identified 1,100 people, but five years on only one has been prosecuted. Switzerland is one tax haven and so far  £135m in tax, interest and penalties have now been paid by those who hid their assets there.

While it is not illegal to avoid taxes and have off-shore accounts, deliberately hiding money to avoid taxes is. So how do these people get away with it? It is clear that without the cooperation of the banks it would not be possible.

It has been revealed that HSBC not only turned a blind eye to these tax evaders, but even gave one client an international credit card so he could withdraw money from these accounts anywhere in the world. The bank also actively assisted clients to stay one step ahead of the law.

When the information was first leaked the leader of HSBC was Stephen Green who shortly afterwards became a Conservative peer and was appointed to the government. He served as a minister of trade and investment until 2013. When asked about the affair Treasury minister David Gauke defended Lord Green’s appointment saying, “I am not aware of any evidence that suggests that Lord Green was involved in this sort of activity.”

Chair of the Public Accounts Committee Margaret Hodge

Chair of the Public Accounts Committee Margaret Hodge

But the chairwoman of the Public Accounts Committee, Margaret Hodge said,  “Either he didn’t know and he was asleep at the wheel, or he did know and he was therefore involved in dodgy tax practices. Either way he was the man in charge and I think he has got really important questions to answer.” It looks to me as if an investigation is called for, and if found guilty he should be stripped of all titles and go to prison.

If all these tax dodgers paid their dues I am sure you could imagine how this would help economies that are currently in trouble. If all these people paid what they owed the amounts gathered would run into many trillions world-wide. But it is the same old story, the rich get richer and the poor get poorer! To my mind it is up to the authorities to come down hard on these people.

Tax Havens

Tax Havens

It would be to everyone’s advantage for the whole idea of tax havens to be scrapped so this sort of thing would not be possible. All tax havens should be made illegal, and anyone who goes down this path should be prosecuted. Why should the super rich be able to hide their money from the tax man while the man in the street cannot.

So far as the banks like HSBC are concerned, they too should be made to pay a penalty for their illegal activities and an investigation launched to root out those in management who are involved in this practice. When they are found they should be prosecuted and given a prison sentence before being banned from ever working in the financial sector again. Only by taking such tough measures will this tax avoidance scheme be stopped.

I fully realize that it is alright to say this, but both you and I know that it will never happen because these people have a way of covering for each other. In the meantime the lessor people will continue to pay!

Roy.

The Trouble With Barclay’s

Posted in America, Britain, England, Government, Modern World, UK, USA with tags , , , , on 03/07/2012 by floroy1942

What does it take these days to get a bank operating within its mandate, and in an honest and efficient way? This week revealed yet another scandal involving Barclay’s bank after the doubtful practices unearthed with many others over the past year. CEO’s have been falling like leaves in an autumn gale this last year and yet they never learn. Now the clock has finally ticked down to zero for Barclay’s, a British bank that has faithfully served the public since 1690, and resulted in a whole flurry of resignations by its top staff.

Chairman Marcus Agius – What Say You Marcus?

First to go was the Chairman Marcus Agius, followed by chief operating officer Jerry del Missier, and now the CEO Bob Diamond is quitting. Its fine to hear that those ultimately responsible are losing their jobs, but is it enough? Firstly, even though they are leaving the bank under a cloud, I am sure they will all collect substantive bonuses running into millions of pounds, and secondly, which one of them will go to jail? Not one I’ll bet!

If we ordinary citizens carried out such a massive fraud, like fixing bank lending rates in an international market, we would be hung, drawn, and quartered and thrown to the dogs! But then again, this crew have money and influence so the chances of any of them ending up in jail are infinitesimal to zero.

CEO Bob Diamond – Hang Your Head In Shame!

It is a prime indication that the current generations are obsessed by money, and even those among us who have more than we could spend in two lifetimes, are gripped by a never-ending drive to make more and more. The banks were institutions where ordinary people like you and I could put our money to be held safe until we need it, but not any more. Like most other things, it has become a money-making machine without an ‘off’ switch.

Since 1763 there have been 39 different banking crisis across the world affecting many major banks, 11 of these have happened since 2002, although if you include the current Spanish bank crisis the total is 12, and all that in just ten years! Of course everyone knows that the banks were bailed out with public money in 2008 and 2009, so why are we still having scandals hitting the banking sector. Do these people never learn!

Jerry del Missier – Explain Your Way Out Of This One!

I have to say, that if I were a Barclay’s customer I would take out every cent I have with them and put it somewhere else. I do not wish to be associated with any bank that is knowingly ‘cooking the books’ and manipulating market interest rates for their own benefit.

One Of The Oldest Structures That Once Housed Barclay’s Bank – 1872

It is past time when governments should step in with very strict controls on all banking practices and carry out regular inspections of the books to make sure they get back to following the straight and narrow. When banks play silly games they are doing it with our money and if it should go badly wrong we are the ones that lose our life savings or pensions, not them. They just collect their massive bonuses and retire. Its enough that the last person on Earth you would trust is a lawyer, but now the banks come a very close second. Enough is enough I say, and send the perpetrators of this latest scandal to jail for a good few years as a lesson to all those other shady individuals who wish to gamble with our money.

Roy.

2011 – A Good Year?

Posted in Britain, Environment, Spain, UK, USA with tags , , , , , , , on 23/12/2011 by floroy1942

It’s Christmas again and you have to wonder where the year went. For many of us this last 12 months has been somewhat of a trial, what with the economic crisis in Europe and the introduction of austerity measures, the so-called ‘Arab Spring’ that has brought death and destruction to many families in many countries, and not forgetting the various disasters worldwide.  Soon another year will be starting and we can only hope it will  be better than 2011.

February 24 2011 - New Zealand

Everyone lives in hope that things will improve, and the world can settle down once more to a period of comparative peace. The last year has seen more than its share of death and heartache, but when all is said and done, we do this to ourselves. Without dictators there would be no need for  an ‘Arab Spring’, and without greedy bankers and corrupt politicians there would be no need for austerity measures, but we are after all human and no-one is perfect.

February 26 2011 - Libya

As we see in countries like Egypt, there is no point in overturning a dictator if he is to be replaced by a military that will not bow to the will of the people. It is after all, the people that make a country, not governments or its landscape. In other arab countries there has been continued unrest because the will of the people has not been heard. Libya is still engaged in sporadic fighting since the fall of Gaddafi, and of course in Syria the story is far from over. If you wish to count all the countries that are embroiled in unrest you would run out of fingers and toes. In Iraq, now the last troops have taken their leave, we have secular fighting that looks set to continue for a long time, until one or other comes out on top, but as usual its the common people who suffer.

If you look to countries that are not actually fighting among themselves, you will find a long list that has suffered riots and/or major demonstrations over the past year. Chief among them Greece, Italy, Spain, America and even Russia. Most of these events are due to people protesting about the austerity measures put in place by their governments in an effort to try and balance the books. That they should need to do this is only due to their incompetence over the last five years, for they failed to live up to the golden rule; i.e. “Never spend what you don’t have”!

October 19 2011 - Greece

All today’s monetary problems stem from the fact that once political parties get in power they want to stay there, and will promise anything to achieve that. They say “Power Corrupts” and that is never more true than today. The governments of countries like Greece and Italy have raised salaries and encouraged massive tax fraud etc. just to keep the populace happy and themselves in  power. As most European countries are now finding out, eventually you have to pay the piper! I was going to include Spain in that category, but in truth, here the problem is massive inefficiency everywhere, from government down to the local shop. How these people ever had the audacity to think they could invade England in 1588 defies logic! Better they had stayed in South America where they only had to fight the local indian tribes!

Friday March 11 2011 - Fukushima

This last year has also seen its share of natural disasters in the shape of earthquakes, tsunami’s, drought and major flooding. Hundreds of thousands of people have lost their lives in these catastrophes, and in truth we have no-one to blame but ourselves. For as long as we continue to destroy our world piecemeal it will only get worse. As I have often said in the past, we are entering a new phase of mankind, and in the words of the ‘Bard’: “We ain’t seen nothing yet!”

Indonesia - Rain Forest Destruction 2011

However, the optimists among us will still hope that the next year in man’s evolution will see an improvement over the current troubles that beset our world. It can happen, if only people would think a little less of themselves and a little more of others. It is time to put away self! With more cooperation and an end to the constant power struggle that afflicts our leaders, the world could once again become a peaceful place where everyone can benefit. If we ourselves stop judging everything by ‘what is best for us’ we can go a long way to solving the major problems that beset society in most countries of the world. If nations like Brazil, China and many other Far Eastern countries can stop their constant attacks on our environment, and everyone can finally agree on measures to cut carbon emissions, maybe we can eventually slow the onset of global warming and reduce the natural disasters that plague our planet ever more frequently.

In the short and long term it is up to everyone, be we banker or beggar, to make the necessary changes in our lives that will bring about what we desire most, a happy and carefree life.

I would like to take this opportunity to wish everyone a wonderfully happy Christmas, and of course, a fruitful and happy New Year.

Roy.

At Last The Knife Goes In

Posted in Justice, Modern World, Obama, President, USA with tags , , , on 23/10/2009 by floroy1942

Finally a brave politician has put the knife into the banking sector, and companies that received government aid at the start of the current financial crisis. The income of these bank executives and CEO’s has been slashed from it’s previously outrageous levels to, what I would call, a more acceptable level, but all is not what it seems.

President Obama has been the first world leader with guts enough to attempt cutting the exorbitant salaries of these people. He appointed Kenneth Feinberg this summer to look into the huge payments, and he has just released the first phase results.

I can hear the moans in the Boardrooms across America now; “Damn! I was going to get myself another Ferrari, a new villa in the Bahamas, a massive yacht, and a huge new cabin cruiser to park in Puerto Banus Harbour in Spain (the most expensive), and oh, the wife wanted a new ironing board. I was even thinking of buying Yellowstone National Park to build some condo’s. Now I guess all that will go on hold. Damn that Obama fella!. Doesn’t he understand I want to be super-rich?”

Of the top seven companies bailed out by the US tax payer, 136 employees from; AIG, Citigroup, Bank of America, General Motors, Chrysler, and Chrysler Financial have all taken a hit.

According to the news, bank executives and CEO’s will have to take a 90% pay cut, while their employees, traders etc, would take a cut of up to 50%. Bosses would no longer receive huge bonuses, but get stock in their company they could not sell until 2011.

It is staggering to see the pay-packets some of these individuals take home. Top of the tree is Sanjay Jha, Co-CEO of

struggling Motorola, who took home a massive $104.4 million in 2008. His salary was a mere $484,615, but he made a further $412,096 in ‘Perks’, $36 million in stock grants and $67,59 million in stock options.

He and his fellow CEO Gregory Brown ($24.2 million), were magnanamous in December last year and took a 25% salary cut. At the same time, Motorola froze all employees salaries and retirement contributions. It sounds like a case of; “Pull up the ladder Jack, I’m on board”.

Mr Jah no doubt owns several Ferrari’s, probably one for each day of the week. His only problem would be to decide which colour to drive on which day! “Let me see. Monday the blue one, Tuesday the black one…….”

I wish I had those problems, the only trouble is I would find it hard to decide; I used to be indecisive, but now I’m not so sure!

Mr. Jah is of course not alone with this problem. The CEO’s of; Oracle, Walt Disney, American Express, Citigroup, Hewlett Packard, Calpine, News Corp, Honeywell International and Proctor and Gambell all face the same agonizing problems, and I haven’t mentioned the car industry yet!

Among the “Money Men’, under the new rules AIG’s top executive will get the highest salary at $10.5 Million which will include a salary of $3 million, a $3.5 million bonus, and $4 million in stock options. AIG is still one of the companies bailed out by the tax payer. But there’s worse to come!

The top 22 executives of Citigroup, bailed out with billions, will share a staggering $118 million in salary, stock options, and restricted stock options that will increase over the next four years. Mama! I want to be a bank executive. Please, can I????

All I can say is; firstly, I should have chosen banking as a career instead of the military and aircraft industry, and secondly; everyone should start keeping their money under the mattress and let the bankers starve.

Of course, the bankers and CEO’s are complaining. Their arguement is, that without the current bonus scheme they will lose all their star performers to companies that are not covered by the new ruling. Citbank and Bank of America have already reported losing key personnel to companies like Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan Chase who managed to escape from the governments clutches during the summer. Some companies are activly engaged in luring away these people with promises of even double their previous bonuses and salaries. Who can refuse that.

The downside is, the loss of key personnel may affect the recovery of the institution concerned, putting repayment of the government loans in jeopardy.

But when all is said and done, these people may not lose as much as first thought. The ruling on bonuses put in place by Ken Feinberg is not watertight. Instead of bonuses they will get ‘Incentive Pay’ in the form of company stock, so all may not be lost after all, just be a little more complicated.

Scrutiny on the part of the general public is advised to see how all this ends, but I for one hope the money trail dries up for these people because they have been milking us for far too long.

All we need now is for the heads of state and governments around the world to take action on this despicable practice once and for all.

May your mattress bulge in all the right places!

Roy.

The Banking Saga – Part Two

Posted in Britain, England, Government, Modern World, MP's, Parliament, UK with tags , , , , on 08/02/2009 by floroy1942

This morning on The Andrew Marr Politics Show (BBC), Alistair Darling the Labour Chancellor has stated that “the holiday for the banks is over”. Now that is welcome news.

Apparently, The UK Treasury is about to launch an investigation into the bonus practices of the UK banking sector, and hopefully, put the brakes on.

RBS Bank has now made it known that they will probably be paying out approximately 1billion pounds in bonuses to their Traders and Executives, while they have just received tens of billions of tax payers money from the government to keep them afloat. The mind boggles!!!

If you care to read my blog from 31/01/09 you will see a lot of similarities between the arguments I put forward, and the current reactions by the politicians.

Darling stated that bank employees have indeed reached a stage where bonuses are no longer given to reward good work, but think it is their right whether they do a good job or not! Thankfully he is of the same opinion I am, that this practice has to stop. We will see!

For now, keep your money under the mattress.

Smile, its never as bad as it could be!

Roy

Lastest Score: Obama – 1 Fat Cats – 0

Posted in Britain, Justice, Modern World, Obama, President, USA with tags , , on 04/02/2009 by floroy1942

At last we have someone of conscience who is willing, and able, to tackle the ‘Fat Cats’ of the Financial World!

Today it was made known that President Obama has ordered that Leaders of the Financial World in America may not earn more than $500,000 (€388,000) salary per year.

This is because, at the time when banks such as Citigroup and AIG were accepting hand-outs from the American Government of around $300billion to save them from bankruptcy, they were handing out to themselves huge bonus’s amounting to several billion dollars.

In 2008, American Banks alone gave out a total of $18billion as bonus’s to their Traders, Board Members, and in particular, C.E.O’s. It is also known that Merrill Lynch of London gave out 4billion while they were receiving money from the British Government.

All tax-payers have a right to be incensed at this level of greed and insensibility on the part of Bankers. I for one am happy to see that a man for whom the world holds great hope in this time of turmoil, i.e. President Obama, has taken the bull by the horns and wrestled it to the ground.

Now it is the turn of Prime Minister Brown of Britain, Angela Merkel of Germany, and all the other leaders, to follow the example of Obama. They too should have the courage to tackle the ‘Fat Cats’ and bring them to earth where the rest of us live. Perhaps now that he has had the nerve to show them the way, they will. I hope so, and I’m sure so do you!

May all your worries be small ones.

Roy

P.S. I think President Obama must have read my Post from Saturday 31/1/09 – Well, maybe not!

Update 5 February:

This mornings news has stated that Prime Minister Brown of the U.K. agrees wholeheartedly with the actions of President Obama yesterday, but, has fallen short of taking any direct action. After the bailout, the British Government now owns 70% of the countries leading banks, but Brown is quoted as saying he is leaving the decision up to the banks themselves. RBS Bank has indicated the paying of bonuses is under review at this time. I for one will be interested in the final outcome!

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