Gordon Brown recognises Ireland for prosecuting bankers

Former British PM queries why UK didn’t do as Ireland did and prosecute rogue bankers

Gordon Brown: “Little has changed since the promise in 2009 that we bring finance to heel. The banks that were deemed ‘too big to fail’ are now even bigger than they were,” he writes. Photograph: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire

Gordon Brown: “Little has changed since the promise in 2009 that we bring finance to heel. The banks that were deemed ‘too big to fail’ are now even bigger than they were,” he writes. Photograph: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire

 

The UK should have followed the lead of Ireland, Iceland, Spain and Portugal in prosecuting rogue bankers the former British prime minister Gordon Brown has said, as he argues that “scores” of cheating British bankers, including directors of Northern Rock, should be put in prison.

In his new book, My Life, Our Times: the Memoirs of Gordon Brown, published on Tuesday, Mr Brown delivers a scathing attack on the bankers who precipitated the 2008 financial crisis, arguing that the sector has failed to learn many of the lessons from this time. And he queries why bankers were not prosecuted in the UK – as they were in other countries such as Ireland.

“If bankers’ conduct was dishonest by the ordinary standards of what is reasonable and honest, should there not have been prosecutions in the UK as we have seen in Ireland, Iceland, Spain and Portugal?”

Writing in the book, Mr Brown, who was prime minister from 2007 to 2010, says: “If bankers who act fraudulently are not put in jail with their bonuses returned, assets confiscated and banned from future practice, we will only give a green light to similar risk-laden behaviour in new forms.”

Indeed Mr Brown is of the view that the prospect of rogue bankers gambling once again with public money is now “inevitable”.

“Little has changed since the promise in 2009 that we bring finance to heel. The banks that were deemed ‘too big to fail’ are now even bigger than they were,” he writes.

Financial crisis

Recalling the events of the financial crisis, which culminated in the then Labour government delivering a record bailout of the system, Mr Brown writes that Royal Bank of Scotland boss Fred Goodwin should have been stripped “not just of his knighthood but of his bonuses and the right to be a company director”, while Northern Rock directors should have gone to prison for fraudulent claims about the state of their loan book.

Mr Brown also argues that problems at HBOS, which shut the doors on its Irish operation, Bank of Scotland (Ireland) in 2010 due to careless lending, were compounded when the bank continued to ramp up its dubious loss-making property purchases even as the crisis worsened.

The former chancellor of the exchequer also has stern words for Barclays Bank, recalling how it tried to buy Royal Bank of Scotland, as well as Lehman Brothers, “misled the UK authorities and – while taking public money from Qatar and UAE authorities – tried to claim they needed no state support”.