Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

The Least the Latest Great Bank Robbers Can Do Is Hand Back Their Loot; Columnist

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

The Least the Latest Great Bank Robbers Can Do Is Hand Back Their Loot; Columnist

Article excerpt

Byline: Keith Hann

A CROWD screaming for revenge is never a pretty sight, whether it is on the streets of some foreign city or the pages of the British Press.

Nevertheless, it seems unfair that those convicted of the PS2.6m Great Train Robbery in 1963 copped 30 years in jail, while those responsible for the trillion pound Great Bank Robbery of 2008 remain not just at large but enjoying honours and plutocratic lifestyles derived from their entirely illusory "success".

Running a bank hardly seems the most challenging job in the world, provided one applies a bit of common sense. Such as only lending money to individuals and companies who stand a sporting chance of being able to pay it back, even if the economy takes a turn for the worse.

In this context, it helps to be experienced enough to know that any politician who claims to have abolished boom and bust is utterly delusional.

As that damning Parliamentary report observed, Halifax Bank of Scotland was not a complicated business brought down by too-clever-by-half investment bankers or felled as collateral damage from the global financial collapse. It would have gone bust anyway because those in charge took irresponsible risks.

Since all of us are going to be paying for this mess through our taxes for years to come, it does not seem entirely equitable that one of the individuals chiefly responsible should be allowed to walk away with a cool PS25m in his pension fund, having retired at the implausibly early age of 50 a couple of years before the wheels fell off.

The cult of comparative youth gives us chief executives at 40 who cannot possibly be expected to hold such high pressure jobs for more than a decade. And Prime Ministers of a similar age who have never held any real job outside politics and reach the top after less than 10 years in Parliament.

With the utmost respect, how can anyone without the experience of things going wrong the last time around be expected to make the right decisions to prevent it happening again? …

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