Why are poor sanctioned for tiny infringements while bank tax avoiders steal millions with impunity?

March 4th, 2014

The latest figures collected by Oxfam indicate nearly a million persons have been ‘sanctioned’ (i.e. deprived of all benefits for a month for the first infringement, often trivial, for 3 months for the second, and 3 years for the third) in the last 15 months and that the numbers using foodbanks are now well over half a million.   Yet bankers are still leading the life of Riley at the public expense without any being brought to book.   Barclays under the so-called Jenkins ‘clean-up’ act has just stunned even the City by increasing bonuses by by 10% despite profits collapsing by 32%.   All the Big 4 – HSBC, Barclays, RBS and Lloyds – have shown contempt for restraint by circumventing the new EU rule limiting bonuses to 200% of salary by paying a totally artificial ‘allowance’ far exceeding this limit.   HSBC have thus paid their chief executive an ‘allowance’ worth £32,000 a week on top of his £1.6m salary.   Barclays is the bank which took the lead in rigging Libor and HSBC was arraigned for money-laundering on behalf of drug cartels, terrorists and pariah states.   Despite this background of big-time criminal activity amid soaraway boardroom greed, not one of the miscreants at the top of these organisations has been collared.

The only way to stop criminal fraud and misfeasance by the banks is not by fines, but by criminal prosecution of the top executives responsible.   The huge size of the fines being regularly imposed – for example the mis-selling of PPI insurance (i.e. tricking people into buying insurance which it was known they did not need and in many cases couldn’t actually use) has led to penalties on the banks, particularly Lloyds, amounting now to £12bn – shows the colossal level of stealing from people by administrative deception.   Yet no chief executive or top manager directly responsible has been prosecuted.   The explosion of tax avoidance, on an eye-watering scale largely organised by the banks and Big 4 accountancy firms – Deloittes, KPMG, Ernst & Young, and PWC – has not led to any top executive being put on trial and sent to prison.

If the argument is that much of this activity, however immoral and anti-social, is technically legal, why hasn’t the government brought in legislation to close every loophole and to make manifestly artificial and contrived tax avoidance a criminal offence?   The contrast with the US is telling.   The US Department of Justice has charged 35 bankers and advisers (not nearly enough, but an advance on the UK’s none) for offences relating to offshore tax evasion, and the prospect of prosecution by the US authorities has been enough to make 43,000 taxpayers self-report and pay nearly $6bn in taxes and penalties.   Instead of depriving people of all their income for 1 month or 3 months or 3 years, which isn’t going to get the deficit down more than infinitesimally, how about the UK tackling the really big money and the really big criminals?

7 Responses to “Why are poor sanctioned for tiny infringements while bank tax avoiders steal millions with impunity?”

  1. Ron Graves Says:

    Why the poor, Michael? That’s an easy one – it’s because we have no way to hit back and none of us are Tory party “donors”.

    Well – no way to hit back until next year, anyway, but unless the poor and the Left vote the straight Labour ticket, and not fritter away their votes on parties who couldn’t win an argument, never mind a general election, Cameron is coming back with a working majority. And if you think it’s bad now, you’ve seen nothing yet.

  2. Pat Sheehan Says:

    As much as I admire and respect you Michael Meacher MP I will not be voting Labour whilst they continue to officially support the farcial Work Capability Assessment. So I will not be voting at the next election. ‘New Labour’ so called, has corrupted the ‘Traditional’ Labour Party and it can be clearly seen now that there is no difference at all between the three main political parties. What working people need in this country now is proper representation, a true democracy and competent leaders who will guide us away from this stagnant, polluted plutocracy and the lying, thieving, cheating nest of vipers who ‘rule’ by fear and intimidation.

  3. Michael Dexter Says:

    Mr Meacher, the reasons are simple. People on benefits and with known medical conditions or disabilities are an easy target. Most have not got the financial clout to afford legal representation. I was a victim of ATOS, my wife and a son were both victims of the harsher sanctions. It seems insane that the majority of these people sanctioned are on so-called back to work schemes that offer only 8 hours a day, 5 days a week looking for jobs. We don’t actually need that, we want help getting new qualifications, or real jobs that pay a decent wage that is not going to be taxed to oblivion, by the uncaring multimillionaire, expense cheating, a**holes who run this country. Some of whom seem to get vast sums of money from Housing Benefits for properties that even animals wouldn’t live in, but people are expected to!!
    It would be nice if every political party would quit blaming the sick, disabled or the unemployed for the situation this country is in, or the previous government. The blame lies squarely in one place and one place only – banks and the way the are allowed to pay the top dogs stupid amounts of money that should be used to end world hunger, pay off our country’s debts, or allow for some serious tax cuts for the lower paid, or to increase the minimum wage.
    Until the public realise every politician only plays at politics, and does nothing that actually benefits the people or politicians realise that the people are the ones who pay their wages and actually listen to us, we will always have this kind over politically inspired bullying!!

  4. Maria Buckingham Says:

    Perhaps a question that needs to be posed directly to the PM (or should that be unelected dictator?) during PM’s Questions? I don’t see how not voting will help anyone other than David Cameron. If your main priority is to get rid of the current shower you realistically only have one voting choice. Smaller parties and not voting will only split the opposing vote to thinly allowing Cameron in through the back door. His core supporters it seems have been well looked after, it’s not a Tory trait to defend the vulnerable if it’s going to cost you a few pence. It’s not voting that’s the problem but public apathy which allows politicians to literally get away with murder (the deaths resulting from welfare reform for example) unchallenged. Vote but continue to hold your elected members to account. Challenge them. Be a thorn in their side.

  5. jeffrey davies Says:

    you got georges matein the bank fiddling the figures for his mates carney another failed one from Canada unill labour show the tont blaires the door and show that banksters can be jailed has they still screwing us today yet labour on the outside its just another tory party never speaking up much about their donations whilst taking flak for union donations you cant believe that labour do nowt other than upset the unions yesblair will bail you out but thatstorys monies are the working class now going to show that we can make another party to show we are labour not new not old but care abt its supporters

  6. Marion Says:

    Politicians of all colours (with the possible exception of the Greens) are pretty much owned by big business. They rely on major donations, they mostly have shares in big companies they are ‘lobbied’ by other big companies (what us more down-to-earth people might class as being bribed), given holidays abroad, you name it. The system is thoroughly, almost universally, corrupt – and it is blatantly obvious to all but the most ill-informed.
    Thus, these criminals have access to the highest law in the land, and will pay to change it. The rest of us poor suckers have to live with it, and pay for their crimes and mistakes

  7. Pat Sheehan Says:

    At the last election I voted Liberal Democrat to keep the Conservatives out. In my area a Labour vote is a wasted vote anyway. So what did the Liberal Democrats do then? They supported the Conservative Party in the so called Coalition. Now this is not what I call Democracy and one can never be sure what the outcome of one’s vote is likely to be. Although I voted against the likelihood of it happening, my vote was actually used to further the aims of the Coalition and support their War on Welfare and the persecution of the sick, disabled and the jobless. That is hard to stomach. It’s very difficult to know who I should have voted for and even harder to calculate, in advance, what that might have achieved.

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