Jeremy Warner: Ross takes bullet for common practice
Saturday 24 January 2009
Outlook: Poor old Rossy. No, not that one. I'm talking about David Ross, the co-founder of Carphone Warehouse. He was frog- marched off the boards of no fewer than three publicly quoted companies, including Carphone, and subjected to the sort of demonisation reserved for fraudsters and investment bankers after it emerged he'd mortgaged his shares for personal loans.
Now it emerges that seemingly half of corporate Britain was up to the same trick, from Dame Marjorie Scardino at Pearson to Michael Spencer at Icap and Frits Seegers at Barclays, the latter of whom mortgaged his Barclays shares in order to buy even more Barclays shares. Bad call, Frits.
Still, Mr Ross's "crimes" don't seem so bad once you realise that everyone else was up to it too. If all those who have declared at the FSA's behest this week were to follow Mr Ross's example, there would barely be a director left in the land.
I exaggerate only to make the point. Mr Ross was in good company and really didn't deserve the pillorying he got. Now the other Ross ... that's a different story.
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