Saturday, 4 May 2013

Ethics Boy

As we all know, Manx klingons like to trade on their insider political status, and the worst are those who leech off Tynwald Day.
So, no surprise that a coalition of the island’s most right wing godbotherers like to hold a 'prayer breakfast' close to the Colonial Clown Show and cut their costs by filching a government guest as the speaker.
Previous offenders have included an Oxford scientist with a sideline in squaring science and creationism, and a general who sent ordinary troops into recent conflicts with duff equipment and no flak jackets but increased the number of military chaplains.
Possibly topping both of these was the UK peer who likes to pose as a mover and shaker on the international aid scene but behind the scenes pushes the ideas of crackpots who, for example, would like to see Israel collapse in order to bring on The Rapture. It beggars belief that a key figure in the House of Lords can one night be a guest at a government reception and days later be addressing friends of the ‘revisionist historian’ (some still prefer the term ‘Holocaust denier’) David Irving. The lecture, I’m told, can still be found on a notorious neo-Nazi website you cannot look at without being blacklisted by the security services of several nations.
This year’s ‘guest of honour’ is a former banker, but also an ordained priest in the Church of England. He is also the author of a book entitled "Serving God? Serving Mammon?
I’m not sure if the book makes it clear whose servant he eventually is, but his career gives a few clues.
Between 2004 and 2010 he presided over HSBC during possibly the dodgiest period in that bank’s history. A US investigation (see and for example) later found HSBC managing to somehow not notice money laundering on a massive scale from the Colombian drug trade, or sanctions busting in Iran and other proscribed countries. When the US slapped a then record fine on the bank it emerged that it would actually have been much larger, and that banning the bank from doing any business within the US banking system should also have followed, but that this could not happen because of the risk to international banking and that massive staff cutbacks would follow.
The staff cuts followed anyway, with – for example - major layoffs in the offshore jurisdictions through which much of this cash would have passed and indeed the closure of at least one jurisdiction’s operation entirely - handily enough before further investigations might have revealed much worse goings on. Not that this poster boy for contemporary religious morality suffered as a result.
Unlike thousands of his lower ranking staff, he did not lose his job as a side-effect of the massive fines. Unlike millions of ordinary and innocent workers whose pension schemes were major shareholders his retirement plans would not be dashed when share prices tumbled.
Because by that point he had a new job in the LibCon pact, as Minister for Trade and Industry. Since when that department has cut deals with the largest tax-avoiding corporations, failed to curb the outrageous bonuses paid to senior bank executives (who – not to put too fine a point on it –were pretty rubbish at their job anyway) and nursemaided the UK arms trade towards subtler use of offshore structures to avoid public scrutiny of their deals with some of the world’s ugliest despots.
All I can conclude is that if Jesus is still saving then he’s got his pension tucked away in scams that would make any smack dealer blush.

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