Monday, July 2, 2012

When Regulatory Enforcement Funding is Cut Regulatory Enforcement Becomes Lax and Regulatory Violations Occur

Well What Exactly Did You Think Would Happen?

In Britain the most current scandal that is unveiling itself in the public eye is the manipulation of the LIBOR rate by Barclays bank.  Since this rate is a ‘benchmark’ rate that is used to determine the interest rate on all sorts of loans, this is a big deal.

As to how this was allowed to happen in a country where banking regulation has the reputation of being rather strict, there is an easy explanation.

The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) ruled out an investigation into allegations that staff at Barclays and other banks had tried to rig the lending rates which could have led to anyone found guilty facing prison sentences.

Gosh, rigging LIBOR is definitely serious fraud, so it would seem like this was a job for Superman the Serious Fraud Office.  Wonder what could have prevented them from doing their job?

The Independent on Sunday understands that the former SFO director, Richard Alderman, came under pressure from the Treasury, the Ministry of Justice and the FSA last September to take the lead in the Libor inquiry last September. But he resisted, blaming financial restrictions imposed by the Treasury and a heavy existing workload.

Well let’s see, Conservatives have been in charge of Britain’s government for a couple of years now, what could possibly have happened?

SFO chiefs complain that their ability to investigate cases has been compromised by cuts to their budget, which fell from £51m in 2008-09 to £33m this year – and it is set to fall to £29m by 2014-15. Mr Clarke yesterday conceded the UK was "very bad at prosecuting financial crime".

Yep, less than 30 million pounds to regulate gigantic, world wide financial institutions and financial markets.  As one British observer put it.

Sukhdev Johal of Manchester University's Centre for Research on Socio-Cultural Change said: "This is effectively banking regulating itself. 

Uh duh, isn’t that what Conservatives want.

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