Saturday, March 24, 2012

Engendering sympathy for bankers

In the last 24 hours it has emerged that a Russian banker, German Gorbuntsov, was shot at Canary Wharf four days ago, is in a coma and under armed guard. Four days is a long time for such news to emerge but that is not really what concerns me. My concern is my own lack of sympathy.

Although nobody wants to hear about shootings it is hard to arouse quite the same amount of sympathy for a banker as it is for an ordinary person, since the banker has spent a lifetime making money his or her God, or ripping-off the general hard-working populace. Bankers have a reputation for uncontrolled theft, legalised extortion and facelessness. In fact a banker ranks alongside the fictionalised portrayal of a lawyer of whom Mario Puzo in The Godfather wrote ‘with his briefcase can rob more than a hundred men with guns’. Not only does this faceless monster award himself, or herself, an outrageous annual bonus but knows that if anything goes wrong, as it did with Northern Rock and the Royal Bank of Scotland, that you and I will bail them out at no perceivable benefit to ourselves – in fact to our detriment.

Bankers are very often the personification of evil. Ahmed Chalabi, robbed the poor people of Jordan via his Petra Bank, fled with the money, was given sanctuary in the UK and US, and used his knowledge as an Iraqi to ‘manufacture’ non-existent evidence that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, misinformation which enabled the US and UK to go to war with Iraq. This evil being is feted by all and sundry, the good and the great, while all the perfumes of Arabia would not be able to obscure the smell of blood on his hands. Back in 2003, naively trying to avert an unjust war, I wrote a piece about this ogre in my weekly Chimps.

Likewise the UK gives sanctuary to Jewish oligarchs like Boris Berezovsky about whom Paul Klebnikov wrote a scathing book Godfather of the Kremlin: Boris Berezovsky and the Looting of Russia. The connection is tentative but Klebnikov would soon end up dead. Four years later and although an American citizen, Klebnikov was murdered in Moscow in July 2004 and his killers never found. That is not to say Berezovsky had any connection with Klebnikov's murder but he has connections with Russia at the very highest level, and has left behind there many thousands of small investors, who have not been offered sanctuary in the UK, and who have seen their personal wealth deteriorate drastically while the wealth of Berezovsky, in whose companies they invested, has increased exponentially. Call it what you want. I call it theft.

It is hard to engender sympathy for bankers and oligarchs, who rob small investors and use their personal wealth to destabilise economies. Pray for German Gorbuntsov's recovery.

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