Blog Archives

The Hector Sants affair fits into two PCU categories: reward for failure and the revolving door

Rewarded for failure

hector santsjpegHector Sants, the chief executive of the Financial Services Authority, who failed to prevent or detect mis-selling of payment protection insurance, the Barclays Libor-fixing scandal and the bank failures which led to an ongoing economic crisis, has been rewarded by a knighthood in the New Year’s Honours List.


He passes through the revolving door – twice

revolving_doorMr Sants showed the chairman of the Treasury Select Committee correspondence with Barclays, in which he had raised profound concerns about the culture and governance arrangements at Barclays, and yet a few months later he accepted a senior appointment as Barclays head of compliance.  Antony Jenkins, now Barclays chief executive, is said to have recruited Mr Sants to “bolster the status of Barclays’ compliance and regulatory oversight functions and make them integral to the way the bank operates”.

So Mr Sants moved from banking to regulating financial services, then back again to employment in this sector.

Professor Scott Cato blogs:

“Awarding a public honour to such a man is just to rub our noses in the culture of rewards for failure, while the price of the failure is borne by citizens who just work hard or the vulnerable who rely on public services”.

She points out the man’s blatant double standards:

“In his evidence to the Treasury Committee inquiry Sants commented that people who have shown ‘serial misjudgement’ should not be allowed to run financial organisations again.

“Although he also confessed to his own failure in this evidence he does not seem to think this undermines his right to a multi-million pound job as head of compliance at Barclays.

“In awarding him a knighthood the establishment clearly agree. His service to British banking has been rewarded; the devastation wreaked on the British people and our economy ignored.”

We hope that the cartoon forecast will not be accurate

hector sants cartoonCynically, Ripped off Britain looks ahead, commenting on both reward and the view of Sants’ intention to restore Barclays’ reputation:

A. He will certainly be using all his FSA  skills . . .

B. To expose dodgy dealing?

A. No. To conceal it even better so they never get caught.




Serious wrongdoing, greed and self-interest in our institutions

Jill Segger, writer, journalist and associate director of Ekklesia, writes in the Friend, 13 July 2012: 

“The institutions which society once regarded as generally trustworthy are crumbling. Serious wrongdoing, greed and self-interest has been exposed among MPs, the press and the banks.” 

Christopher Hedges, journalist and Master of Divinity, writes even more strongly about the American situation:



Though we would qualify this ‘sweeping generalisation’, bearing in mind the responsible professionals we will all have met, there is ample evidence to support Jill Segger’s observation of crumbling institutions.  

She continues: 

“Relationships between politicians, the press and the police have come under close scrutiny and more than thirty arrests have been made as a result of the Operation Elvedon inquiry into the bribery of police and public officials. 

“The crisis of trust that we are experiencing is the sour fruit of the collapse of the post-war consensus, which underpinned a more collective and mutually responsible society. The ethos of the 1980s, with its fixed belief that market forces – in other words, money – must always dominate all other considerations, accelerated the process. The common good was for sale and there were many eager to snap it up at a bargain basement price.” 

An illuminating moment during the Treasury Select Committee’s questioning of Barclay’s chief executive, Bob Diamond, was recorded: 

“Although the proceedings resembled a light toasting rather than a serious grilling, anger at the bank’s rate-fixing was evident. However, Diamond’s smooth evasion and obfuscation appeared unshakeable until John Mann, the MP for Bassetlaw, asked him: ‘Do you know the founding principles of the original Quaker bank?’ 

“For an instant, panic flashed in Diamond’s eyes, but by the time Mann had named those principles, ‘honesty, integrity and plain dealing’, the well-trained corporate operator had once again composed his features into neutrality – ‘no comment’ made flesh.” 

People are acknowledging and seeking for those qualities of integrity, which momentarily disconcerted Bob Diamond 

 Ms Segger comments: 

“It was a powerful moment and, as a journalist and commentator, I have heard its unmistakable echo in my inbox and Twitter feed over the last few days. Something is stirring that goes well beyond the immediate reactive anger to MPs expenses, to press and police malpractice and to the stunning level of ruinous greed displayed by bankers.” 

This paragraph has been selected from her article as a fitting conclusion 

“Collapsing confidence in what were once the pillars of our common life now presents us with a clear choice.  We can either sink into an apathetic cynicism, which refuses to believe that good governance is still possible and as a consequence adopts many of the behaviours it condemns, or we can stand firm and sound deep to that within which recognises and longs for something better.”