Ten years and no change with the bankers at the trough and the rest of us on the skids

The Sunday Post (Newcastle) - - OPINION -

Ithas been 10 years and a day since Wall Street’s in­vest­ment bank­ing gi­ant Lehman Brothers sud­denly col­lapsed. An un­prece­dented crash and fi­nan­cial cat­a­clysm, fu­elled by greed and ir­re­spon­si­ble lend­ing, whose de­struc­tive shock­waves her­alded the 2008 global bank­ing cri­sis and a decade of aus­ter­ity we are still suf­fer­ing from to­day. I re­mem­ber the pe­riod all too well, and it still gives me shiv­ers and sleep­less nights. Like so many other SMEs (small-medium en­ter­prises) re­liant on the banks and their range of ser­vices, I was un­ex­pec­tantly pulled in by my mine, The Bank of Scot­land, and put un­der the sword. New words were thrown at me like con­fetti. Con­fus­ing words I had never heard of but wish I had, if only to win a game of Scrab­ble. They were threat­en­ing words like Li­bor (Lon­don In­ter­bank Of­fered Rate) and Ebitda (Earn­ings be­fore In­ter­est Tax and Amor­ti­za­tion) which, even though my com­pany was pay­ing its loans on time and ser­vic­ing its over­draft, meant the bank now viewed my com­pany and all

my hun­dreds of staff as a risk not worth con­tin­u­ing with. And so with mal­ice and in­tent they hiked up my re­pay­ments and in­ter­est rates, un­der­val­ued my units (even though they were prof­itable) well be­low their true value to a forced sale value, stopped my over­draft fa­cil­i­ties, and be­came very frus­trated and ag­i­tated tbe­cause I didn’t have a per­sonal guar­an­tee with them. They wanted to know the value of my home and any other per­sonal as­sets I had in or­der I could pass them over to them and then to cap it all off made me pay for one of their favoured “in­de­pen­dent” com­pa­nies who were ex­perts in in­sol­vency and liq­ui­da­tion to write up a bi­ased report that qual­i­fied their rea­son­ing, hik­ing of rates and pulling of re­sources. And all so they could put me un­der and claw back monies they had in­cred­i­bly de­ter­mined as bad debt, at a pit­tance of the true value and more im­por­tantly had no need of as their losses had al­ready been cov­ered by a tax­payer bailout of bil­lions. I’m glad to say that they didn’t get their wicked way and a deal was even­tu­ally struck. But the men­tal tor­ture they put me, my fam­ily and those who worked for me through, was in­ex­cus­able, un­nec­es­sary and some­thing which will never be for­got­ten or for­given. The lives they set out to ruin and the men­tal pain they in­flicted should have seen them all jailed. In­stead – with the typ­i­cal UK fam­ily said to be £23,400 worse off than it was be­fore 2008 and av­er­age wages in real terms down £800 – it is the rest of us who have been do­ing the do­ing hard time. It does not look as if it is go­ing to get eas­ier any time soon.

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