28th October 2019
Today SME Alliance chairman Nick Gould announced that he is stepping down after four years in the role. He receives the heartfelt thanks of the membership. He made this statement:
‘As an organisation SME Alliance, the support, knowledge sharing and lobby group, should not need to exist. It does so primarily because of the appalling actions and inactions of certain immoral and unethical and quite possibly corrupt bankers, covering a period of more than 15 years and some of their equally immoral and unethical advisors. All of these people have been sheltered by a legal and financial services regime which favours and protects those with near unlimited power and money.
‘The regulators and all relevant Ministers and Shadow Ministers (and too many constituency MPs as well) have failed almost completely to help those whose lives and businesses were destroyed by those bankers. On the other hand, a select group of brave people were willing to speak truth to power, notably Anthony Stansfeld, Thames Valley Police Commissioner, and Kevin Hollinrake MP, who deserve thanks from all of us.
‘I believe it important to say that a large number of the members of SME Alliance and many others, whether or not their claims have been “settled”, are still suffering and massively so. That suffering might be emotional, or through poor health, or financial concerns, or a combination of all of these. The impact of that suffering has been passed down to generations of families and continues to do so. One victim of RBS has been fighting his case for more than 20 years. This is completely unacceptable. RBS is a taxpayer owned bank. If RBS stakeholders actually knew what is apparently being done in their names, I doubt if they’d be cheering. The behaviour of HBOS and then its 2009 acquirer, Lloyds Banking Group, Lloyds’ various chairmen and CEOs, its board of directors and its senior executives over the last decade, so far as the continuing mis-treatment of the HBOS Reading fraud victims are concerned is despicable and puts any idea of corporate governance and similar to shame. For a few people, it is already too late.
‘That it is left to a very small group of people to attempt resolution of these and hundreds of other cases, shows the entire system of financial laws and regulation in this area is not fit for purpose. Although no one is above the law, in some of these cases it is a fairly close thing, so far as some senior bankers and some of their advisors are concerned. Probably the saddest thing (apart from the real people and real life nightmare stories, of which there are far too many), is the fact it is almost certain something like this will happen again very soon.
‘As I have said in letters, emails and reports to many people over the last few months:
“As I am sure you are aware, people are sick, are dying, have died– time is precious.” That sentence and the pain it contains, remains entirely true.’