The glib and shameless empire

One thing that the Ibrox omnishambles has revealed to Planet Fitba is the appalling vista that is the current corporate oversight situation in the United Kingdom. 

UK corporate and financial regulation harks back to a time when defrauding brown and black people across the planet was perfectly acceptable behaviour for a British gentleman, but it was unthinkable to try the same on one of one’s peers.  Similarly the UK’s working classes could be pressed into service for near slave wages without damaging a robber baron’s standing with his fellow Etonians or Harovians. Britain’s business culture developed to govern how members of the club treated each other,but  imposed few restrictions on how a gentleman treated non-members.

How the British elite did business was inextricably linked to the imperialist project.

There was a tribal solidarity that was taught on the playing fields of Eton.

Quite simply there were things that a chap would not do to another chap and that was fully understood within the elite that ran the empire.

However lesser breeds within the imperium and back home in Blighty were fair game for any swindle that could be thought up.

In fact it was perfectly permissible to be a glib and shameless liar when dealing with the conquered creatures who lived under the Union Flag at home and abroad.

On the other hand there was a certain level of conduct expected of a chap when dealing with another chap.

The penalty of being socially excluded from the elite kept all in check except those afflicted with terminal hubris.

Fast forward to the 1980s and add in the unintended consequences of the Thatcherite ideology of deregulation and the culture and practices of the Square Mile are changed, changed utterly.

In particular the Alternative Investment Market (AIM) market is considered by many to be a financial wild west. The use of Nominated Advisors (Nomads) calls back to a bygone era. It depends entirely upon a financial services firm being accepted as trustworthy gentlemen who will not allow other gentlemen to act like ruffians. In a time when the threat of social exclusion was a dreaded sanction, this might have been adequate. If other gentlemen refused to do business with you, one would be ruined.

With the intrusion of the Essex barrow boy into Britain’s financial sector in the 1980s, AIM regulation can be seen to be a joke that protects neither gentleman nor bounder. While many reputable companies take advantage of the lower cost of listing on the AIM, investors are depending on larger shareholders to be concerned enough about their reputations to install men of esteem and integrity as board members. Men like Brian Quinn, ex-Celtic Chairman, would never have ignored troubling truths in return for a salary or a bonus cheque. His response to the remuneration package of Juninho when he arrived at Celtic is a case in point.

The RIFC situation clearly highlights the failures of AIM’s regulatory regime. When Nomads can be replaced with ease and one with financial troubles of its own procured, it is not difficult to see how fears about the Nomad’s willingness to initiate action against a paying client can be raised. Like with the auditing business, when a watchdog gets fed by the watched, it should not be a surprise if their desire to bite the hand that feeds is less than it should be.

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