The City Diary: A spy too ordinary: Camilleri unimpressed by Russian 'agent'
Slackbelly exposes the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of the Square Mile
Sunday 04 July 2010
Nicholas Camilleri, the financier who was thrust into the Russian spy scandal when it emerged he employed the suspected femme fatale, Anna Chapman, provided a profile of his former employee this week: "She was a green, wet-behind-the- ears type of girl," he said. "She came across as having none of those sorts of spying-type aspirations, so I can't see how she developed them later. She was just an ordinary girl. She had nothing of any consequence about her."
Camilleri can't always be relied on to present such a measured tribute. When giving the eulogy at the funeral of his friend Sita White – the daughter of the industrialist Lord (Gordon) White – Camilleri lauched a passionate diatribe against the deceased's sister, Carolina. Camilleri later justified his actions by claiming that Sita would have enjoyed the mayhem surrounding her death: "She was a drama queen!" he said. Classy.
Faith falters as God's bank reveals its blind spot
Is nobody taking the word of God's bank as gospel any more?
US media group McClatchy has provoked a furious denial from Goldman Sachs after stating that the bank really did trade on its own behalf and bet against the US housing market, despite everything it has previously claimed. Still – the story remains online.
Meanwhile, Goldman's chief financial officer, David Viniar, told the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission last week that "we don't have a derivatives business" (which it clearly does) and was then rapped by commissioner Byron Georgiou for claiming he did not know how profitable this (non-existent) business is.
"When you tell us that you don't know how much you make in your derivatives business, nobody here really believes it," Georgiou told Viniar. "Nobody here believes that you don't know how much money you're making on the various aspects of your business, it doesn't make any sense."
Goldman reckons it only reports total positions, rather than splitting out products. But if Viniar's having trouble locating the figures, he should perhaps log on to the US website Zerohedge. Published there, he'd be astonished to discover, is one of Goldman's daily profit and loss reports, which lists derivatives separately. What a turn up for the books.
Goldman coy over final UK tax payment
Back in August, Goldman Sachs scored a notable PR triumph when it announced that it would be paying £1.3bn in UK tax for its 2008 financial year. It was slavishly reported, but now the deadline to pay is closing in, I ask how much it's going to hand over? After a pause, the bank replied that – it can't say. Most odd.
PVM keeps cork firmly in the story of its alcoholic trader
Steve Perkins was the oil trader banned by the Financial Services Authority last week for illegally trading $520m in the middle of a heroic boozing session – which lost his company, PVM Oil Futures, £10m. But as he's admitted to being alcoholic, I wonder if Perkins had done this type of thing before?
"That is one of the areas that we're not going to talk about," blocks a PVM spokesman. So might he have made money the last time, I ask? "That is not something we are going to talk about," he parries again. Thank you.
Sponsors flock to the England footy team – or not
So who will be the next sponsor of England's woeful football team? The current agreement with Nationwide has now expired and the FA's risky policy of going into the World Cup without a deal has proved as flawed as some of the players' techniques. Nationwide (as sported by Steven Gerrard) had its £20m offer to renew the FA's flagship endorsement for four more years turned down – as the guardians of the game reckoned they could get twice that price. Now, with the England team widely despised, it is hard to see what brand might want to associate itself with a failing side. Unless the brand's Scottish.
Incidentally, England was once sponsored by Green Flag, the roadside recovery group. When the company first approached the FA about a deal, it was still operating under its old moniker, which caused a few eyebrows to arch. "We can't have the England team sponsored by National Breakdown," railed one FA mandarin at the time. Doesn't seem that silly now, does it?
Poker player Achilleas dealt a September trial
A quick update on Achilleas Kallakis, the property tycoon who has been charged with a £61m fraud. The plea and case management hearing was originally set for May, but the defence was not ready, and now it will take place in September with a trial scheduled to start 12 months later. Kallakis, who is alleged to have duped Allied Irish Bank by claiming property leases to tenants had higher rents and were signed for longer periods than was the case, has had to post bail of £140,000, although I wouldn't have thought that would prove too much of an inconvenience. He once spent $10,000 to buy himself into the World Series of Poker – having never played the game before – and has been known to persuade people in bars to give him their seats by instructing flunkies to offer them $100 bills.
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