Criminal Fraud – by whose definition?

Over the last week there has been two separate news items about two very separate men, who are linked only by the virtue of them both working in the banking industry.  What differentiates them at this moment is that one is in prison and the other is not.  After reading the two articles it struck me that the only thing that keeps one of them in jail and the other out, is scale, job title and the ability to bullshit, as neither one has seemingly been blessed with a strong business acumen.

So lets look at the hapless bastard who is now in prison and was refused bail this week because of (quote) “the serious allegations backed up with cogent evidence”.  I am of course referring to the UBS trader – Kweku Adoboli.  Kweku’s “crime” is to have lost UBS £1.5bn in alleged unauthorised trading.  Apparently he is accused of doing this to (quote) “try and make personal gain”.

Now lets look at Fred Goodwin, who until this week was better known as Sir Fred Goodwin, who headed RBS bank until it collapsed in 2008.  He has just been stripped of his knighthood that he was given in 2004 for – “services to banking”.  Sir Fred was so adept at providing his services that by 2008 RBS had suffered losses of £24bn and needed a £45bn injection of taxpayers money.  Did Fred provide these services for free or did he do this to “try and make personal gain”?  I will let you come to your own conclusion on that vexing question after ruminating on Fred’s compensation.

 2001: £733,000 salary, £825,000 bonus
2002: £832,000 salary, £1.73m bonus
2003: £898,000 salary, £990,000 bonus
2004: £990,000 salary, £1.5m bonus
2005: £1.09m salary, £1.76m bonus
2006: £1.19m salary, £2.76m bonus
2007: £1.29m salary, £2.86m bonus
2008: £1.3m salary, no bonus awarded

Total: £20.75m

Pension pot: Worth £342,500 per year (although this was cut from £703,000 per year)

So lets go back to my earlier thoughts;

Scale: – £1.5bn loss versus £24bn

Job Title: ‘Trader’ on the Delta one desk versus ‘Chief Executive’ of RBS.

Ability to bullshit: who got a knightedhood for “services to banking”?

Consider the two cases and think about the scale of the respective losses, which situation required a massive injection of taxpayers money and which had the greatest knock on damage to the UK economy and you begin to realise that we all live in a complete fantasy world that would be impossible to dream up without some very serious drugs and you could never sell it as a television series because you would told that your idea was “to far divorced from reality”.

Final thought – ‘Sorry, who is in prison’?

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Welcome to Heathrow – again

Given that the Olympics is opening in London in the middle of this year it is clear that Immigration Officials have been on more “country ambassador” courses.  I have to share with you my monosyllable exchange this week with a charming female Immigration Officer. Her body language as I approached dictated the direction of our interaction even before it began.  My answers are in italic.

Good morning (said with a smile)

Why are you here?  (Here we go thinks me)

Business

Who do you work for?

Xxxx

Who is xxxx?

They are a business

What sort of business?

They make things

What sort of things?

Internet things

What are you going to do here?

Attend Meetings

Who with?

People

Who are these people?

People who have flown in to have this meeting

Why are you going?

Because it is my meeting

When you leave, where are you going?

Home

Where is home?

Amsterdam

Do you have a Visa?

No

Why not?

I don’t need one

Why don’t you need one?

I am a permanent resident

Where was this passport issued?

London

You haven’t filled in that question on the form

Apologies, thank you for filling it in

Yes, we are here to help  (oh yes, very clearly)

 

The lunatics are loose in the asylum

Here are a selection of excerpts in the news over the last 10 days.  Despite the fact that personal greed drove the global economy to the very brink of the precipice, it would seem that the certain sections of society still have no real links to reality and one could argue, why should they because neither society nor the law hold them accountable.

Dexia (Franco-Belgian lender) lent €1.5bn of capital to its two largest institutional shareholders so that they could buy shares in ………….. Dexia.  In a further interesting twist Dexia accepted its own shares as collateral for the loans.  “Byzantine doesn’t even begin to describe this structure” was the reaction of someone briefed on the situation.

Investment banks are using gaps in global pay reforms to persist with some of their most contentious bonus payment practices.

Despite UBS losing $2.3bn, UBS Executives said that it would not force them to rein in this years bonus payments, as it set aside nearly 90 per cent of its investment banking revenues for staff pay.

Olympus, the Japanese camera maker are struggling to explain the $687m payment to a third part ‘advisor’ on their purchase of Gyru.  This fee represented 1/3 of the total deal value.  The consulting company, registered in New York was suddenly de-registered and disappeared shortly after being paid.

High end London properties are increasingly sold off-market by vendors who do not like the thought of selling to a wealthier buyer. ( My god – what is wrong with these people?)

This doesn’t even begin to touch on the US economic & political woes who seem to impact everyone with the exception of the top 1% (by wealth) and the politicians. 

You would like to think that after a million odd years of evolution we may have evolved a little further.

Troy Davis – Justice in the ‘Land of the Free’

Today, Wednesday September 21 the state of Georgia is going to execute Troy Davis who was convicted for killing an off duty policeman in 1989.  So far, so good.  Reading this headline one might think “Serves him right”.  The family of the dead policeman certainly do.  “Justice was finally served for my father,” said Mark MacPhail Jr, the victim’s son. “The truth was finally heard.”

However if you spend a little more time to read the background, you will understand why I have to write this post.  Since the original conviction in 1991, seven of nine witnesses who helped convict him during the original trial have either changed their testimony or recanted. No murder weapon was ever found and no DNA evidence or fingerprints conclusively linked Davis to the shooting.

Even more astonishingly at a rare 2010 innocence hearing – ordered by the US Supreme Court – two witnesses said they falsely incriminated Davis, while two others told the court another had confessed to being the actual killer.  US District Court Judge William T Moore Jr said there was not enough evidence to vindicate Davis or grant him a new trial.

Of course the fact that Troy is an African-American living in Georgia has absolutely nothing to do with this.  What leaves me almost speechless is the utter fucking hypocrisy of so many Americans.  I will bet $100 that every member of the parole review board and the judges like William T Moore Jnr all go to church every Sunday, pray to God to save themselves and yet somehow manage very successfully to ignore some of the central tenants of their faith.  If Jesus appeared before them and held the mirror up to their faces to see what they have become they would probably execute him as well for being ‘un-American’.

One thing that I do know for sure, the term ‘Capital Punishment’ means that those with the capital don’t get the punishment.  Talk to Dominic Strauss Khan.

God save America – (why the fuck would she)?

Only $2bn???

The last few days has provided interesting reading.  Poor Kweku, he has clearly fucked up.  There is debate about whether he lived a flashy lifestyle, there is discussion about what this might mean for UBS, there is discussion about risk management, but no where has there really been any discussion that puts this into context.

Consider this – there are 39 countries whose 2010 annual GDP was less than $2bn (CIA World Fact book).

$2bn would support 66,000 unemployed, uninsured Americans for a year.

or, provide education to 10 million underprivileged children for one year in Africa.

So the question really is, how can everything be so completely fucked up that when we read that poor Kweku has blown $2bn, the world essentially shrugs it shoulders and reacts in a manner that would suggest that Granny lost her purse containing her $100 pension money?  Why have we collectively learnt to tolerate this?

We are living in world that is on a knifes edge of falling of a precipice and will impact our children’s children, solely because of human avarice and greed.  In almost every country and society if a person enters your home and forcibly removes your money and valuables, people react with shock and express the pain they have suffered from having their personal space invaded and of having something forcibly removed from them.  How is it that a single profession has executed the largest theft of value in human history and we shrug our shoulders and run to the local Starbucks for our next coffee (and in the process get scalped again, but that’s a different story)?

If you think that it isn’t really about human greed and that it doesn’t really concern you, spend one minute and think properly about the quote in the FT this morning related to the impact of Kweku’s trading – “The big concern for all my UBS friends now is that they are not going to get their bonuses” 

Well fuck me.

 

Buy Apple, it just works! – Total Bullshit

I have colleagues at work as well as friends who are rabid Apple fans.  They consistently tell me that I must be mad not joining the club because Apple products “Just work”.  Well I can tell you from personal experience that this statement is pure, unadulterated bullshit.

Personally, I have been using a PC for years but I did succumb and buy an iPhone 2 years ago.  I need to say that the phone itself is great and so are the apps.  However, let me share a dose of reality.

For the past 12 months, iTunes has refused to complete the o/s updates on the iPhone.  The process begins and after 3 or 4 minutes it alerts me that the update has failed.  This is despite updating iTunes itself.  Essentially it hasn’t mattered because all the applications and the phone itself continued to work well.  Anyway, last week there were 20 app updates waiting and I had put this off for a while and then decided I may as well.  After updating all the apps I tried to use a few of them and each one failed.  It opened for a fraction of a second and then closed immediately.  I realised that it was probably because the phone o/s was an early 3 series and the latest o/s was 4.2.  So I tried to update the o/s once again via iTunes, but it still refused to update the o/s.

So, I realised that the only way to possibly do this was to try using my partners MacBook Pro.  Of course in doing so it warned me that all apps, music, photos etc would be deleted.  So it did a back up and then replaced the o/s, which went smoothly.  Then I restored the back up that I had just done and then the fun began.  Most of the apps were missing and core apps like ‘Notes’ all my notes had been erased except for 3 of them and typically they were 3 that wouldn’t have mattered if they had been erased.  All other data contained in the other remaining apps, such as ‘To Do’ lists were gone.

So I came back to iTunes on my own computer to reinstall a previous back up from there, but they had all gone.  Then I noticed that the links between the songs in iTunes and where they were stored on the external hard drive were gone.  I have 3500 tracks and I was not about to individually link them back to the file on the drive (as the forum’s suggested).  So I thought the easiest way is to delete all the song titles from the main library and build it again, which I did.  However, this also removed all information about the tracks that I had legitimately purchased from the Apple store, and they were nowhere to be found in iTunes, nor could I remember them because there is a reasonable list.

It has taken 3 fucking days to get this whole shitty mess resolved.  The only thing that saved my sorry arse was that I could retrieve library file data from and external back up, which then gave me back my playlists and purchased track data.  On top of this, when I went to synch the phone to get the rest of the apps back on as well as the music library, that piece of software shit known as itunes decided that the iphone was now an ipod and tried to erase what was currently on the iPhone.  This has now taken me another 5 hours this evening and it would seem that everything is back, I think.

To help explain that it just doesn’t happen to me, my partners friend who lives near by rang for help after she updated her iTunes program to the very latest version and her entire music library has gone – completely.  Not just from iTunes but from her computer.  After frustrating calls to Apple the guy actually admitted “Yeah, this happens quite a lot”.

So the next time some deluded Apple fan tells me, buy Apple because it ‘just works’, it will give me perverse pleasure to tell them to fuck off.