The City Diary: When is a loan not a loan? When it's from Cantor

Slackbelly exposes the good, the bad, and the ugly of The Square Mile

I'll begin with a case that has just hit the High Court, which gives an intriguing insight into the workings of the City.

Cantor Fitzgerald, the broker that seems to have a taste for trips down the Strand, is suing a former employee, Benjamin Koskas, for the repayment of an £87,827 "forgivable" loan.

These loans are common enough in the City as an alternative bonus payment and are "forgivable" in the sense that if you work for a company for an agreed period, then they get written off. If you want to leave before you've served your time, however, then you have to repay the lot, and the loans are seen by many as a cunning, even draconian, method of staff retention. Cantor, which is led by Howard Lutnick has the reputation of being more attached to this tactic than most.

Still, court documents show that Koskas did trouser the cash, handed in his notice before working the agreed three-year period, and has so far failed to repay his former employer. His defence revolves around restraint of trade and technicalities regarding his February resignation.

Chris McGrath, the lawyer defending Koskas and a longstanding adversary of Cantor, declines to comment on the case – as does the broker itself. So I'll take a wild punt and guess that this case will end up being settled, adding more weight to the oft-used line about legal departments at broking firms: they are profit centres.

Banned Greystoke is still laying down the law

What news of Andrew Greystoke, the Atlantic Law founder and solicitor who was banned for life from the City in May for his role in assisting share pedlars to rip off at least 130 people in a "boiler-room" scam?

That punishment from the FSA also prompted the Solicitors Regulation Authority to institute disciplinary proceedings against him – but the body seems to be taking its time as Greystoke is still listed as a solicitor. He's also quietly changed the name of his firm to Stanwick & Bond (although it's yet to be registered with the Law Society).

"Andrew Greystoke is not back in the office until next week," blocks one Julian at S&B – who refuses to reveal his own surname. "We are not at liberty to discuss with you when we changed our name".

Still, despite not taking any action thus far, the SRA insists: "We have him in our sights."

It's the quiet life for Leech – on doctor's orders

Greystoke was also once a director and major shareholder in First London Securities, the defunct investment bank that attracted attention last year due to its links with a convicted insurance fraudster and its role in the short-lived takeover of Notts County, the Football League's oldest team.

The bank also boasted former Conservative environment minister Tim Yeo and Nicholas Chance, Prince Michael of Kent's private secretary, as directors, while a former shareholder was one-time Jersey bankrupt Kevin Leech.

Leech, I note, has just resigned from the board of Devilfish, a listed poker group, on the grounds of ill-health. I'm told the 67-year-old is suffering from high blood pressure, which has prompted doctors to instruct him to retire. Associates are sceptical that the old rascal will obey the orders for long, however.

There was gold in Polly Peck's window sills

The return of Polly Peck boss Asil Nadir just about gives me enough of an excuse to retell a witty observation about the old fugitive. David Stoddart, highly regarded retail analyst at finnCap, and former Polly Peck worker, once recalled: "It was the only company I've ever been at where the fixtures and fittings appreciated."

Von Finck Jnr moves into the West End

Property industry aficionados will know that O'Callaghan Properties scooped £48m last week by selling 20 Grafton Street to a "private German investor", in one of the priciest office deals in the West End this year. So who was the mysterious buyer?

Step forward Baron August von Finck Jnr, one of Germany's richest men. Forbes estimates he is worth £5bn. His family trust has interests in property around Munich, a shareholding in hotel group Mövenpick, and stakes in fast-food chains. Still, much of the wealth originates from great-grandfather Wilhelm von Finck, who founded insurance giant Allianz and private bank Merck Finck & Co.

The bank was then expanded by Baron August von Finck Snr – a controversial figure as a leading Nazi supporter and one of a group of industrialists who met Hitler in 1931 and promised financial support in the event of a successful putsch against the Weimar Republic.

Von Finck Jnr sold Merck Finck to Barclays in the 1990s.

1. Open mouth 2. Close brain 3. Insert golf club

Comb-over king Donald Trump does not like the Chinese at all. He blogs: "From the gymnasts caught cheating at the Olympics to the singer caught lip-synching on international television, I don't have the highest esteem for their ethics. It's all a charade. I also don't like the fact that we look like fools. I know for a fact they laugh at the stupidity of our leaders, and for good reason. They can't believe they're getting away with what they're getting away with and we're allowing it."

Simultaneously, bosses at Aberdeen Airport say they are in talks with Chinese airlines about new services to the Granite City. Their big selling point? The new £750m Balmedie golf resort being built by, er, Donald Trump.

Bannatyne gets Red Molotov's T-shirt treatment

Following my story that Red Molotov, the T-shirt firm, was selling designs featuring the BBC's Robert Peston comes another business-inspired garment.

The craggy features of Duncan Bannatyne, star of the BBC's Dragons' Den, can now be enjoyed by T-shirt wearers. The marketing bumf reads: "Everyone's favourite Dragon. Well, apart from Peter Jones maybe. And that James Caan seems a nice bloke. Deborah Meaden frankly scares us though." The shirt itself reads: "I don't like the product, I don't think it would sell, it's not a viable business, and I'm not so keen on you ... and ... I'M OUT!" I'm sure it's ironic.

Men in suits: Has Gordon Gekko gone out to lunch at last?

The initial online reviews for Money Never Sleeps, the soon-to-be-released sequel to Oliver Stone's Wall Street, starring Carey Mulligan and Shia LaBeouf beside Michael Douglas, have been pretty positive. But might the studio be controlling things a little? My man at an early viewing reckons Gordon Gekko's latest showcase has "lost its edge", with many "punch lines coming from the old film". Who'd have thought it?

postmaster@slackbelly.com

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Recruitment Genius: Financial Adviser

£20000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you recently QCA Level 4 qu...

SThree: Graduate Recruitment Resourcer

£20000 - £22500 per annum + OTE £30K: SThree: SThree Group have been well esta...

Guru Careers: Application Support Analyst / 1st Line Support

£25 - 30k: Guru Careers: We are seeking an Application Support Analyst / 1st L...

Guru Careers: .NET Developer / Web Developer

£45K - £55K (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a full stack .NET D...

Day In a Page

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence