Former Barings chief comes out of the closet

CITY DIARY
So Andrew Tuckey has not been demoted to a broom cupboard in the basement of the new Barings building. That story now appears to have been put about for the benefit of the Bank of England.

The former deputy chairman of Britain's oldest bank - who resigned "as a matter of honour" after failing to spot a pounds 900m loss - is in fact enjoying a spacious office on the executive floor. This in spite of promises from the Bank of England Governor, Eddie George, that he would need his approval to work again in the City.

"It may look like a large office but he is sharing it with someone,'' says a Barings man who appears embarrassed by the presence of the man known as Teflon. Now a consultant to the bank's corporate finance arm Mr Tuckey is still the subject of a Securities and Futures Association investigation.

"You should not be on this floor and you should not be looking in that direction,'' says the banker. Sorry.

Forte makes a second strategic blunder in its bid to stay out of Gerry Robinson's clutches. The recruitment of Cazenove to the phalanx of Forte advisers has given the Granada boss another opportunity for espionage. Much like the executive dining rooms at fellow advisers SBC Warburg, the Caz refectories are also supplied by Sutcliffe, Granada's contract catering division.

Mr Robinson might consider the purchase of a waiter's uniform and a silver platter a sensible investment.

The more one thinks about it the more lenient Nick Leeson's sentence looks. Six and a half years in Singapore's Changi jail is a day at the beach compared with the penalties being handed down in the Far East for other forms of financial crime. China, for example, has imposed the death penalty for fiddling the VAT man.

To the Western mind (Customs & Excise excepted) this might appear a little harsh. But the Singapore press notes that VAT fraud is widespread in China, with 943 cases reported last year at a cost of 24.78bn yuan (a lot of wonga). The death penalty takes effect from next April and applies to those "making and selling fake VAT invoices''. Any tax officials implicated in VAT fraud will also be executed.

But that is not an end to the matter. The authorities have also cut VAT export rebates, claiming that it would take China two years to pay the 55bn yuan it owes exporters in unpaid rebates.

"I want to say I am sorry,'' said Xiang Huaicheng, deputy director of the national taxation administration. "The Ministry of Finance does not have the money.''

Michael Green, the cigar-chomping chairman of Carlton Communications, is suitably underwhelmed by the news that the Independent Television Commission is to give a total of pounds 800,000 back to the 16 ITV companies in the form of licence fee rebates. "It will pay for my children's school fees,'' sniffs the media mogul, "but it's not going to double the share price.''

One wonders which lofty establishment Mr Green's children go to.

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