Tag Archive | "royal bank of scotland"

Government to act on bailout tax breaks

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Government to act on bailout tax breaks


I would like to thank David Jones, MP, for drawing my attention to a statement made by Alistair Darling in relation to my current anathema. Specifically, that unless Government intervenes to prevent it, banks and other large institutions that are in receipt of taxpayers money (as a consequence of large scale losses), will be able to benefit from carrying forward current losses to offset against future taxes. This to my mind would be scandalous. In a statement last Wednesday, Alistair Darling said;

To protect the taxpayer, RBS will have to bear the first portion of any additional losses over the coming years, up to a total loss of 6 per cent., or some £20 billion, on top of the £22 billion of impairment and write-downs that it has already taken. As in any insurance scheme, RBS will have to bear the first losses. After that, the Government will cover up to 90 per cent. of any further losses. RBS will also pay a fee of 2 per cent. of the value of the assets insured—some £6.5 billion—again, as in any insurance scheme. It has also agreed for a number of years not to claim certain UK tax losses and allowances, meaning that when it does return to profitability it will not be able to benefit from the losses accrued in the intervening period.

Now, whilst there appears to be a recognition that banks and other such institutions in receipt of taxpayers money could take advantage of tax breaks related to past losses, it does not go far enough. Firstly, this is just words, there is no concrete agreement, secondly, it only refers so far, to RBS and thirdly, it highlights “certain losses” and “number of years”, providing no clear definition. As we all know, if there are grey areas and money is involved, such statements will be challenged by these large institutions. This is a classic New Labour statement, high on self-righteous rhetoric and short on substance, detail and commitment. We would all be well advised to take much of this statement with a large pinch of salt.

Government needs to legislate for this issue, given every business is entitled to carry forward past losses to offset against future profits. Therefore, unless legislation is introduced, specifically aimed at those in receipt of taxpayers bailout money, to prevent the use of these tax breaks, there will be a massive outcry in the future. This will doubtless be at a time when the taxpayer is being fleeced for even more money to pay for the losses, borrowing and debt accumulated in large part as a consequence of the mismanagement of these institutions.

It is unlikely that we can rely on New Labour to tackle this issue, especially as they are unlikely to be in power when the tax breaks become a political issue, but there is no reason why the Conservatives and LibDems could not, or should not raise this issue now. The electorate demands it of our elected representatives and they must not claim ignorance when the day of reckoning comes, as it surely will.

Posted in Conservatives, General, Labour | Comments (1)

Government shirks responsibility for RBS bonuses

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Government shirks responsibility for RBS bonuses


Despite all the political grandstanding surrounding the proposed bonuses to be paid to RBS staff, there is little that can be done about it and the government knows it. Don’t get me wrong, I am completely against the payment of bonuses to staff when the very fact that they still have a job is down entirely to the intervention of the government with taxpayers funds.

However, the fact remains that the vast majority of the staff will have some form of contractual entitlement to a bonus; the senior bankers know this and so do government ministers. For example, it is estimated that some £500m is due to be paid to ABN Amro staff and this was a pre-condition of the original sale of the business to RBS. If senior managers don’t honour their employment contracts, then they could very quickly find themselves in breech of contract and you can rest assured that there will be a massive queue of lawyers offering to take up their cases.

Gordon Brown is reported to be “very angry“, well, bully for him,  what difference will his temper tantrum make? None! Treasury minister Yvette Cooper said any contractual or legal obligations on banks to pay bonuses at a time when they were making huge losses must be “challenged“. Yeah right Yvette, you know that there is little or nothing that can be done about it, which is why you squirmed so much when John Snow put some eminently reasonable to you on Channel 4 News last night. Alistair Darling is quoted as saying “I have spoken to the chief executive of RBS, and made it quite clear, and he agrees, that no-one associated with these huge losses should be allowed to walk away with large cash bonuses.” Quite right Mr Darling, but this is a legal issue, not a place for political rhetoric.

Even David Cameron demonstrates how out of touch he is by stating “As the principal shareholder, you are able to say what is and what is not acceptable.” True Mr Cameron and that is precisely the point, but you cannot do it retrospectively, if you had any business experience you would know that, unless of course, you are simply taking us all for fools.

The truth is this government rushed into “saving the banks from collapse” and in doing so, they left any commonsense back in the office. So keen were they to be seen as the saviors of the banking world, they did not complete any form of due diligence. I know that ministers and civil servants can often be accused of rank incompetence, but this goes off the scale. No experienced businessman and I mean not one, would blindly invest into a business, however urgent the need, without completing a full review of the business. As one contributor stated on one of my recent posts on the RBS fiasco;

Due Diligence is only half of the required formula for meeting the requirements under “Standard of Care” or “Due Care”. Due care is the second half of the diligence formula and equally as important. For without it, the standard of care can not be measured.

Performing Due Diligence identifies where investment risks or exposures lie, due care is exercising the requirements discovered under due diligence to protect or mitigate exposure from those risks.

Not only has the PM missed the first but importantly government has neither the resources, skills, or initiative to deal with the second which is what ultimately leads to failures.

In the normal course of events, due diligence would have uncovered that there were, amongst other things, contractual liabilities to pay bonuses; this would have included an estimate as to the likely cost. Had the government and its advisors acted with a reasonable level of care, arguably, this whole situation would have been avoided. Government could, for example, have included conditions which required staff to sign a waiver in relation to their bonuses. Alternatively, they could have been made redundant and re-employed on new contracts, the business after all was likely to collapse. Those that were expecting large bonuses, but had been party to significant losses, could have been warned that if they attempted to exercise there ‘bonus guarantees’ they could expect to be dismissed with immediate affect and could face a claim if they had acted recklessly or without a reasonable level of care.

I am not an employment lawyer, but I am convinced that there were (‘were‘ being the operative word), any number of imaginative ways in which government ministers could have avoided this massive kick in the teeth to hard pressed taxpayers if they had acted with foresight and were in receipt of legal advice. Instead, once again, the rank incompetence of government ministers has cost UK taxpayers £billions.

There have been justified cries for the bankers to pay back their bonuses and even suggestions, quite rightly in my opinion, that traders should be sued for bonuses paid on what have subsequently turned out to be ‘questionable or toxic’ investments. These are perfectly justifiable initiatives, but what about the government ministers, surely they are equally culpable? Leaving aside the issue of regulation and so on (pre-bust), government ministers ordered a massive injection of taxpayer cash into banks without fully understanding the liabilities and obligations therein. At best, it demonstrates incompetence of the highest order and at worst, that they do not appear, based on the evidence currently available, to have demonstrated a reasonable standard of care.

This current political grandstanding and rhetoric is nothing more than a smokescreen designed to divert attention from the incompetent management of the whole banking crisis by members of this government. New Labour ministers have proven themselves to be incapable of humility, unable to accept any form of personal responsibility and aggressive towards anyone who would question their intent. That is arrogance in its most basic and crude form, the people of this country must not let them get away with it, government ministers must be held to account and accept moral and legal responsibility for their actions. Anything less would be an outrage to the people that will have to pay the price over the coming decades.

Posted in Conservatives, General, Labour, Lib Dems, World | Comments (4)

Open letter to Gordon ‘Blank Cheque’ Brown

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Open letter to Gordon ‘Blank Cheque’ Brown


During yesterday’s press conference to announce the latest banking bailout you demonstrated your true colours. When asked by a reporter if you were offering the banks a “blank cheque”, you turned on him saying that he needs to be careful about what he was accusing you of. I don’t know about the reporter, but I felt your response was menacing, bordering on threatening. Just who the hell do you think you are? Whilst you may surround yourself with yes men and women, the public of this country have to rely on reporters and the odd MP to ask searching questions.

The bottom line is you have offered a blank cheque. Please feel free to threaten me, because I will not be intimidated with your schoolyard bully antics, which can serve only to demonstrate that you are a weak or a vain man. Lets look at the accusation that you are issuing a blank cheque. You have refused to put a number on the cost of the banking insurance scheme, which implies that you don’t know the cost. This smacks of a blank cheque, furthermore, if you are not even prepared to put an upper limit on the exposure, this is another clear indication that you are providing the banks with a blank cheque. So blank cheque it is, if it look like a dog, barks like a dog etc, etc…

The truth is, when the original banking bailout was conceived, insufficient thought was given to it, instead a huge amount of taxpayers money was thrown at the problem and it has had little or no affect. Banks are not lending to each other and the high street banks have not significantly increased their lending to consumers or businesses. All the £37bn has achieved is, that it has allowed ailing banks to shore up their balance sheets. In other words, it was a complete and utter failure. In addition, the advisers that your government appointed, clearly failed to identify the extent of the questionable or ‘toxic’ debt within the banks that you invested our money in. That is hardly the sign of a competent government or leader.

What I find most galling is your abject failure to admit any responsibility for something that happened on your watch, principally as Chancellor and subsequently as Prime Minister. What you need Mr Brown, is more people around you that tell you how it is, not people that continually blow hot air up your backside. If you surround yourself by people that keep telling you, at least to your face, that you are brilliant, then there is an inherent risk that you start to believe them. Well let me put you straight Mr Brown. In my view, you were the most inept Chancellor in history, you knew that the entire economy was being driven by cheap and plentiful credit, in part because of historically low interest rates and more specifically because of the boom in house prices, allowing people to release and spend their equity. Some would call it fools gold. But, the bottom line is, many, many warnings were being given by economists and the like that the bubble would burst. You ignored them and we are now paying the price.

Granted Mr Brown, the housing crisis started in the United States, but as you well know, if we ourselves had not had an unsustainable housing boom, we would not have been so badly affected as we were. Remember, you were the one that promised and end to ‘boom and bust’, how hollow those words are now. Remember also, that you have claimed all of the credit for the so called boom years, but did you put anything aside for a rainy day, no you did not. Instead, you went on a massive spending and borrowing spree. For example, in spite of the fact that you increased employers and employees national insurance contributions by 1%, ostensibly to allow further investment into the national health service, you then used PFI to finance the building of hospitals, regardless of cost to the taxpayer. For example, to build a new hospital would normally cost around £60m, using PFI, the cost over 30 years in £300m. Little wonder that PFI contracts were traded on the open market with £millions being made on each trade.

Each time I hear you say that you are acting in the best interests of the public it makes me cringe. In my view, if you were as honest and sincere as you would have us believe, you would step aside and let this country decide who they want to lead us out of this enormous mess. You have made massive mistakes and ignored many warning signs, instead of taking appropriate, if unpopular decisions at a time that they would have made a difference, you ignored them in favour of the Labour Party’s populist approach. Don’t you dare try and tell us you didn’t see the warning signs, it was your bloody job, some of the people of this country placed a great deal of trust in you and you let us all down. You may be angry with the banks for embarrassing you, but trust me Mr Brown, we are very, very angry with you.

The last banking bailout may have prevented the banks from collapsing, but, for all intents and purposes, it failed on every other measure. Moreover, the recent report that your advisers failed to identify a potential £2,5bn write-off of a debt until recently is shameful. This should have been evident before you spent our money investing in a bank that is expected to report losses of up to £28bn. What happened to due diligence and warranties? Your current plans appear piecemeal and with respect Mr Brown, the whole thing smacks of a desperate man placing the last of his money on a horse in the vain hope that he can win big. Shit or bust as my father used to say! But, of course, it is not your money, it is ours and most of us, thank god, are not high stakes gamblers. If you cannot tell us how much it is going to cost, how can you claim that your response is measured? If the previous bailout failed, how can you convince us that this one will not follow suit?

The fact is Mr Brown, you lack credibility, if you fail to achieve your objectives, you simply move the goal posts, when asked a difficult but relevant question, you bluster, ignore them, or once again, refer to what the Conservatives have done in the past, ignoring the fact that we have heard it all before and they haven’t been in power for 12 years! Your party is a spent force and if I may be so bold Mr Brown, I was perhaps one of the few people that never believed you had the ability or nous to be a good chancellor, oh how I wish I had been wrong.

Your reputation for prudence Mr Brown is in tatters, your credibility as a prime minister has been in question almost from the outset and your ability to lead us out of this mess is simply too far fetched to imagine. So please do the decent thing and step aside. Let the people of this country decide who is best to lead us out of this financial mess. We deserve no less!

Posted in General, Labour | Comments (2)

Advertise Here