David Prosser: Coming home, they've done their time

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The Independent Online

Outlook One by one, disgraced bankers are hitting the comeback trail. In the US, the former boss of Lehman Brothers, Dick Fuld, has been gainfully employed by a hedge fund since April. Back home, Andy Hornby, the former HBoS chief, is back in post running Alliance Boots. Now even Adam Applegarth, under whose stewardship Northern Rock became the first British bank to experience a run for more than a century, has picked up a new berth, advising a fund run by the US private equity group Apollo. It specialises in non-performing loans – a niche with which Northern Rock is now all too familiar.

It's not all plain sailing for the men who brought the financial system to its knees. Johnny Cameron, once head of investment banking at Royal Bank of Scotland, has just had to quit his new job advising a leading head hunter after it lost a contract with UK Financial Investments. Sir Fred Goodwin has yet to raise his head above the parapet.

Should we really be giving these folks a second chance? Of course we should. Their managers may have been incompetent, but not criminal, and vengefulness is a petty instinct.

Still, those frontline banking staff whose jobs have disappeared following the financial crisis could be forgiven for casting an envious eye the way of their former bosses' well-paid new posts, not to mention everyone else who has joined the ranks of the unemployed as a result of the recession induced by the credit crunch.

Perhaps a higher rate of income tax is in order for those we hold responsible for the crunch, once they get a new job. After all, Gordon Brown did promise this week that "the British people will not pay for the banks, the banks will pay back the British people".