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Wednesday, 3 May 2017

The rogue bank, the failing company and the Tory Party donations


In October 2008, at the very height of the global financial sector insolvency crisis, HSBC made a very strange decision: They made a massive £214.2 million loan to a struggling company called IPGL.

To get an idea of what was more normal practice for banks during the insolvency crisis and the post-crisis recession, consider the behaviour of the (majority taxpayer-owned) bank RBS which deliberately withdrew loans or hiked repayment terms in order to drive thousands of British companies into financial difficulties, and then used their Global Restructuring Group to close down the businesses and asset strip them for their own profits.

The RBS Global Restructuring Group destroyed 12,000 businesses in this way in what executives referred to in leaked emails as "the dash for cash". After the scandal was exposed by the hard work of people like Neil Mitchell they've now had to set aside a £400 million slush fund to compensate some of their victims.

Interestingly HSBC took a very different attitude towards the struggling and massively indebted IPGL, which was being run at huge losses by the then Tory party chairman and massive Tory party donor Michael Spencer. Instead of attempting to shut it down and asset strip it, they pumped a massive £214.2 million loan into it at a time when getting loans out of a bank was like getting blood out of a stone.

Spencer then funnelled over four million in donations to the Tory party via IPLG including over £1 million for their 2010 general election fighting fund. IPLG donations also covered the cost of flying David Cameron, George Osborne and others to the Davos World Economic Forum just months before the 2010 General Election.

If HSBC propped up a failing business and that business then went on to pump millions into the Tory party to help them win the 2010 General Election, it's easy to see how people might conclude that the failing business was used by HSBC to launder money into political donations.

HSBC, the Tory party, George Osborne's office and IPGL were contacted by the investigative journalists who broke this story and offered the chance to comment. They all declined.


While this HSBC-IPGL-Tory party business was going on HSBC were also laundering hundreds of millions of pounds in drug money for Mexican drug cartels and funds for terrorist organisations.

After the Tories came to power in 2010 the conduct of George Osborne and David Cameron clearly continued to favour HSBC and Michael Spencer's business interests. Their attempted favours towards Spencer continued even after their fall from grace over the spectacular failure of their EU referendum gamble in June 2016.
  • In March 2012 Spencer was named by the disgraced former Tory party co-treasurer Peter Cruddas as one of the millionaires to have benefited from the "cash for access scandal".
  • Although Spencer didn't make it into the unelected House of Lords in David Cameron's resignation honours list Camilla Cavendish (the former Times editor who spiked the HSBC fraud story) did.
The £214 million HSBC loan to the failing IPGL and their subsequent donations to the Tory party have now been referred to the Electoral Commission by the SNP's Roger Mullin, who is calling for an immediate investigation. The Labour MP John Mann has called for a public inquiry into what he called "the biggest party donor scandal ever".

Coverup/whitewash?



The French libertarian philosopher and economist Frédéric Bastiat once wrote that "when plunder becomes a way of life for a group of men in a society, over the course of time they create for themselves a legal system that authorizes it and a moral code that glorifies it", which stands as true today as when he wrote it in the 1840s.

There are so many revolving doors between Westminster politics, the financial system, the financial regulators and the media that it seems unlikely anyone will ever be properly held to account.

The Canary and Move Your Money broke this story on April 28th, but 5 days later the mainstream media has yet to move on it, preferring instead to focus the public attention on "vital" issues like the Shadow Home Secretary getting her figures muddled up in a radio interview and then subsequently correcting them.

The whole thing reeks of corruption, but we all know by now how these things tend to play out. Even if the story does eventually get some limited mainstream media coverage it'll doubtlessly all be brushed under the carpet again, and if anyone ever does end up getting the chop for it, it'll almost certainly be some lowly minion who gets fed to the wolves, not any of the big players.

But at least you know some of the murky details now.

Credits

The investigative work into the HSBC-IPGL-Tory party money flow was done by Fionn Travers-Smith of Move Your Money. The story was publicised by Steve Topple of The Canary.

The SNP's Roger Mullin deserves credit for publicly raising this issue with the Electoral Commission and Labour's John Mann deserves some too for calling for a public inquiry.

Follow them here:

Fionn Travers-Smith (Twitter)
Move Your Money (Twitter/Facebook)
Steve Topple (Twitter)
The Canary (Twitter/Facebook)
Roger Mullin (Twitter)

John Mann (Twitter)

You should also follow the HSBC whistleblower Nicholas Wilson (Twitter) for more corruption coverage.

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