You can loot the Treasury and lie to your readers, but don’t loot Currys
The reason Newscorp is getting into deeper and deeper financial trouble – and currently unable to realise its opportunities – is because the business community is quietly but steadily edging away from it. If the FBI gets lucky and finds a Milly Dowler style action in the US, then it’ll be the end for the Murdoch clan.
This has nothing at all to do with the ethics of business, however: it is merely a tactical recognition by the suits that other brands associated with a brand attracting disgust and opprobrium know their customers will punish them by association. In business, you don’t close ranks – you close the door and say “Not today, thank you”. You freeze out the toxic brand from a sense of personal survival, not morality: the saps got caught, how dumb is that?
The American Federal Treasury has just caught JP Morgan red-handed contravening almost every sanctions agreement at the UN to which the US is a party. The Fed called the crimes ‘egregious’ – meaning flagrant, blatant, in-yer-face and all that sort of thing. But the action has been reported as follows: that JP Morgan Chase agreed with the US Treasury Department to pay £54.2m to avoid liability for “apparent violations” of sanctions against Cuba, Sudan, Liberia and Iran. This makes it sound as if the Feds were being pernickity, and to get them off their back, JPM said oh alright then, if you must, here’s some small change: now go away.
In actual fact, over time Morgan the Pirate processed 1,711 transfers totalling £130M to Cuban alone in the full knowledge of doing wrong. It was a criminal act, not an oversight….although, natch, Morgan’s lawyers said such was “an easy mistake to make given the complexity of pc screens….there was no intention to violate regulations”. We’re back to fully cooperating with the Met Police, and phones accidentally hacking celebrity voice-mails in journalists’ sticky pockets.
There is no shame – thanks to its abolition by the politicians and lawyers of the last half-century. I doubt if a single client will move away from JPM as a result of this case. When Lloyd Bankfine told the media he was hiring a hotshot lawyer to help him wriggle out of the self-inflicted legal mire in which he finds himself, Goldman shares plunged. But again, that reaction was based on the market’s fear of losing Lloyd’s expertise: they don’t give a crap about the likelihood of him being a crook.
If prominent people and institutions in public life won’t set an example, then the law must make an example of them: a fair trial, and if convicted, a serious clobbering. JP Morgan made over £4.5 billion last year: £54M isn’t going to deter anyone.
Although this may seem to come out of left-field, the casual way in which Alistair Campbell has joked about his journalistic style over the years (“I made it all up” on the Parkinson Show, for example) is yet another example of so-called leaders using cultural code to say “It’s OK to cheat”. Piers Moron is about get his comeuppance for being egregious about his naughtiness over the last decade…but there seems to be zero likelihood of Campbell winding up in the same dock.
He does, however, remain a big Slog target. So any and all substantiated clues about wrongdoing would be gratefully received here at Slogger’s Roost.