The announcement that JP Morgan Chase have been fined a record £8 billion for their role in the 2008 bank collapse and mortgage scam is buried in the less well read pages of the financial press. This is the civil settlement imposed by the US financial authorities, which are now looking at a follow-up first, a potential criminal prosecution.
Bank after bank has been fined for individual or collective scams, price fixing, toxic mortgage deals, market manipulation and so on. These practices have dominated banking in Britain and internationally from time immemorial. Chief executives and directors have come and gone. The occasional knighthood has been revoked and shredded. But no criminal or fraud prosecutions en masse.
But with the Co-op Bank, Osborne announced a special investigation after allegations about its failed chairman’s personal behaviour. The hedge funds that now own the bank announced they will review its historic funding arrangement with the Labour Party.
Some 150 local authorities – Labour local authorities – have been advised by the bank that their banking arrangements are to be reviewed. Hundreds of schools, taken out of local authority control by the government but which still use local authority banking arrangements, have been warned that this is also to be reviewed by the new owners.
Business secretary Vince Cable announced an investigation into whether the Co-op Bank can use the that name as it is no longer a mutual bank but owned by the hedge fund investors. No high street bank supporting the Tories has experienced this level of sustained smear, investigation, review and media attack.
It has emerged that advisers to Cameron and the Tories are also advising the new owners of the Co-op Bank. The fifth column are in the boardroom. The vultures and wolves are circling the Co-op Bank to obliterate 150 years of an anathema, a bank under capitalism that the banking cartel did not fully control.
The Co-op may be a relic of an ideal that never lived up to its promise – and it is quite diminished from its glory days. But here is an opportunity for its enemies to swallow it, so that’s what they are doing. Cooperation cannot survive within capitalism. ■