COOP SCANDAL: ‘nothing to suggest problem in the 2012 accounts, but directors had been warned in 2009’

How the top men at the bank lied in the Company Report

Sources close to the Cooperative Bank insolvency issue are alleging that criminal fraud has been committed by the major management players on the bridge when the ship sank. Their evidence makes for compelling reading….and shows yet again how those who come into a Mutual – already infected by the universal greed apparent outside – can screw things up.

 The Co-op’s group accounts for 2012 asserted that:
‘Bank liquidity has been reviewed by considering the latest liquidity forecast for 2013–2015, as well as the stress testing results from period end for internal liquidity assessment, together with the Bank’s compliance with its regulatory required levels. The evidence from stress testing as at period end [January 2013] shows that sufficient liquidity levels can be maintained under the most severe scenarios. This is also documented in the Individual Liquidity Adequacy Assessment (ILAA).’
Not true. The Directors were warned by the PRA in 2012 as stated to the Select Committee, that its stress test of Co-op Bank’s assets in 2012 clearl showed the need for further additional capital, and [that] the Co-operative Bank  aspects of  liquidity-risk management, integration, governance and management – needed to be improved for the Co-operative Bank to proceed with the bid for Lloyds’ branches.The PRA told the Co-operative Bank on the record that it was ‘their duty to inform Lloyds of their position’.
But these Directors were also duty bound to draw that warning to the attention of  both auditors and Members in the annual report – which they quite clearly didn’t do.
The Directors appear to be bang to rights here: they camouflaged the true asset position deliberately in order to avoid detection. That is fraud, clear and evident. The context for reaching that judgement is irrefutable in the definition of fraud within accounting law:
“A false representation of a matter of fact—whether by words or by conduct, by false or misleading allegations, or by concealment of what should have been disclosed—that deceives and is intended to deceive another so that the individual will act upon it to her or his legal injury”

But then, past experience with the Government/Banker relationship might suggest otherwise.

When the Halifax Building Society demutualised in the mid 1990s, as their advertising agent I was given the task of creating the Member vote and flotation communications campaign. We took the business – to do otherwise would’ve meant making 27 people redundant – and it was without question the daftest, most disastrous decision I’ve ever made as an adult. If there is one association in life I’d wish to airbrush out, it’s that one.

For roughly 18 months before the float from Mutuality to plc, trying to get the client to focus on any normal product marketing was like trying to get a dyslexic kid to read War & Peace. The deal stood to make some twenty or so individuals in the management extremely rich: so with that scent in their flared nostrils, getting anyone’s attention without using the word “flotation” was difficult.

A Westminister-generated report in April this year confirmed that the desire of this tiny group to get rich quick has so far wound up costing the British taxpayer £30 billion. Just think about that number: each trougher’s greed cost this country £1.5 bn. You could build a lot of NHS infrastructure with that much. You could give 15o,000 SMEs defrauded by RBS a £10,000 interest free loan. You could have Jeremy Hunt and his mates in the Newscories sect buried under motorway stanchions, no questions asked guvnor. You could build the f**king motorway to go with them.

So far, one of the rich few, James Crosbie – who once referred to me as “a Trot” after I predicted what would happen – has been stripped of his knighthood. Two other senior managers were made to apologise to a Parliamentary Committee. Er, that’s it. The rest of them – from Dick Spelman to Mike Blackburn – trousered millions. Nobody has been asked to pay anything back for taking the world’s biggest mutual Society and turning it into a taxpayer debt. On this basis, the Coalition should be paying each Croydon rioter a bonus of at least £1m each. Which would of course be wrong…as indeed the HBOS disaster was utterly, unforgivably and disgracefully wrong. This is equality before the law in Cruel Britannia, 2013….and it has got worse since 2008.

However, when it comes to the Cooperative Bank case history, not only can we see that the Frontal Lobers have learned nothing whatever: we can also discern the very clear case for a fraud prosecution. Thus far, evidence is there none of such an eventuality. Sounds like a case for the UFD to me.

And talking of the Unaligned Front for Decency, an update: solicitors have been engaged with a view to the formation of a mutual charity. Frankly, my brain hurts just talking to them. But things are moving forward: all those expressing interest in joining will be contacted as soon as possible.

Earlier at The Slog: The real reasons why the Wheels came off Detroit