Debate: Should bad bankers be jailed?


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The Independent Online


What's going on?

Britain’s banking bosses should face jail if their decisions force fresh bailouts, the Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards said yesterday.

The commission’s hotly anticipated report urges the Chancellor, George Osborne, to oversee the creation of a new offence of “reckless misconduct in the management of a bank”.

Were such an offence in place in the aftermath of the financial crisis, several banking leaders could have faced prosecution.

Case for: Fair

That no banker has gone to jail for the credit bubble and its bursting - what has been called the largest fraud committed on the public in the history of capitalism - beggars belief. Millions of people have seen living standards decline; thousands entered a new life of penury and an entire generation had their future made harder. Yet those at fault got off scott free. Fair? No. An inevitable consequence of the complexities and collaborative nature of large-scale finance? Once, perhaps - but following the Parliamentary Commission, that has changed. At last, belatedly, bankers can be held to account.

Case against: Damaging

Do you think that bankers sat down and plotted the economy's downfall? Let's be clear: the crash wasn't the result of fraud. It was the consequence of widespread poor decision-making. To hang the threat of jail-time over the City is absurd. If a banker breaks the law and commits real fraud, they will go to jail - already. These new proposals will only make it harder to attract people to Britain's banking sector (which is vital to our economy) and feed the anti-finance frenzy.