The Right to a Choice 207

You may have to trust me on this, but the Office of Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) is a terrific organisation that does remarkably good work, considering that it works for member states as diverse, and governments as severally ill-intentioned, as the United States, Russia, Uzbekistan and the UK.

When I was looking to leave the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, I applied for a senior post at ODIHR and travelled to Warsaw for an interview. I believe my application was torpedoed by the FCO, who considered me far too committed to democracy and human rights to be allowed to work on the subject in a formal international body. There is a de facto – amd perhaps even an acknowledged – veto by member states on employment of their individual nationals in international institutions.

Yet somehow despite national governments ODIHR has managed to do its job credibly, and by and large OSCE election monitoring in particular has been very valuable, even where the result of the monitoring is not what some or even most member states on the OSCE Council want. All of Uzbekistan’s elections have been judged not free and fair, for example, with election monitoring missions generally not even being deployed on the grounds of assessment by ODIHR that the preconditions for free and fair elections simply do not exist.

Unfortunately ODIHR has no means to prevent member states from simply ignoring its reports, which they do, and the Heads of State whose election OSCE pronounced fraudulent immediately turn up as members of the OSCE council. But the rports themselves and the work behind them are good.

One important criterion for a free and fair election is that there should be a real choice offered to voters between genuine political alternatives. You find this expressed several times in the ODIHR guidance for election observers:

Genuine elections presupposes that the electoral process will be conducted in an accountable
and transparent manner and will provide a real and informed choice for voters,

A genuine election is a political competition that takes place in an
environment characterized by confidence, transparency, and accountability and that provides
voters with an informed choice between distinct political alternatives.

In Uzbekistan, for example, everyone has the chance to go and vote and there are several alternative candidates to choose between, but they all support President Karimov and his policies. In fact, this provision on distinct political alternatives and genuine choice has been repeatedly used by ODIHR and OSCE against elections throughout the former Soviet Union.

So what do we make of the EU – all of whose members are members of the OSCE – insisting that the leaders of all Greek political parties must sign up to an agreement to supprot the dreadful cuts in public spending, in imminent elections? With severe financial menaces, they are demanding that the Greek people be denied any real choice in the upcoming election. The EU members are thus in the most brazen breach of their OSCE commitments and obligations. It is appalling hypocrisy.

I am not sure in practice what mechanisms exist in Greece to keep independent candidates off the ballot or deny them access to the media. But the institutional advantages enjoyed by the main parties are massive throughout Europe, and having all the main parties campaigning on the same economic policy – due to direct foreign political pressure – cannot be a free and fair election.

I hope that the example of Greece will further open people’s eyes to what has happened in the UK, where the massive and growing gap between rich and poor is enmeshed with complete corporate control of what are now three neo-con main parties, whose policy distinctions are absolutely tiny. They all support bank bailouts, quantitative easing, public spending cuts and aggressive neo-con wars. The differences of degree are extremely marginal.

I published an article on this in The Guardian before our last general election – the rather foolish headline was not mine. But I am quite proud of that article, and believe there is increased understanding and support for the view it expresses.

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207 thoughts on “The Right to a Choice

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  • fool musings

    Uzbek in UK asked a nice question above:

    “Can you name ONE Prime Minister in British history who you would call to be sincere? Sincere people are usually cast out of big politics even before they reach any sensible position. And this is true in both democracy or in dictatorship.”

    But why limit it to British leaders, or even to leaders? Uzbek went on to make a point about British elites, but again the point is valid for all elites not just us Brits.

    Anyway what I wanted to ask is what is sincerity?

    I don’t believe it is visible nor is it akin to self-judgement nor is it being free from double standards. A show of sincerity is a sign of its opposite so how do we know it. I suspect we don’t know it in others. We only know in it ourself, or more usually we only know our own insincerity, although we usually prefer to be blind to it.

  • Roderick Russell

    @ Mary – No, I am not under any allusions as to the state of our democracy. Power elites are exercising too much behind the scenes influence and it seems to me that they do it working through our secret intelligence/security apparatus – MI5 & MI6. As these unelected people operate in secret, outside the law, they have effectively neutered the democracy. Our politicians are scared of them since they believe that MI5/6 can ruin their careers. It was the former chief, Hugo Young, at the UK’s Guardian/Observer media chain who wrote nearly 10 years ago that British intelligence had become so powerful that they no longer even attempt to hide their “central role in government”.
    Once one allows these secret agencies to override rule of law, its game over for democracy since they are in a position to know everybody’s secrets and can blackmail, harass or do worse to anybody who stands up to them. The irony is not just that one cannot be a democracy without rule of law but that one cannot be a constitutional monarchy either; since constitutionality requires rule of law as well.
    It’s much the same in Canada – where the CSIS Spy Agency is out of control, and our politicians are scared of them.

  • DownWithThisSortOfThing

    “The MPs’ register of interest shows he is paid £50,000 a year as a strategic adviser to Circle Healthcare.”
    Twice the salary of many of the people who voted for him and all the while taking those peoples hard earned cash in public coin, complete with one of the most exceptional pensions in the Western world.
    Taking a bung for serving the interests of a private company or foreign government used to be called corruption. Now MPs can simply admit to their corruption in the ‘register of members interests’ and thereby escape any scrutiny or censure whatsoever.
    They’ll be wringing their hands at the next election wondering why large numbers of people are not voting.

  • Arthur Askey

    Taking a bung for serving the interests of a private company or foreign government used to be called corruption. Now MPs can simply admit to their corruption in the ‘register of members interests’ and thereby escape any scrutiny or censure whatsoever.
    You have to admit that the current system is better than the old system – where thousands of pounds were stuffed into a brown envelope and exchanged on a train station platform.
    Now our corrupt MPs can have some much needed self-respect because they don’t have to carry on in the shadows (like a prostitute) while going about their seedy business.

  • Mary

    Ou est Monsieur Craig Murray? J’espère qu’il va bien et qu’il se prépare quelque goody pour nous.
    We would also like to know where the f Werritty is? Anyone? FCO? MoD? Liam?

  • nuid

    “Ou est Monsieur Craig Murray? J’espère qu’il va bien et qu’il se prépare quelque goody pour nous.”
    Wasn’t there something new – Werritty related – due out on Friday? In Private Eye? I thought Craig said as much in the Mentions and Non-mentions thread …

  • fool musings

    hhhm maybe, I will have to think about that. Many years since A level history and Gladstone always seemed so dour and something of a roundhead to Disraeli’s cavalier. Disraeli appears to have been pretty candid in his novels, but I will give G another go.

  • Rose

    Ou est etc – perhaps CM is hot on the trail of AW and unable to reveal his whereabouts. Wish he’d hurry up – I’ve been driven back to the Graun.

  • glenn_uk

    Courtenay Barnett: Absolutely – have you noticed how for decades, we’ve tut-tutted about the excesses in the US in one way or another, or some ominous new development, only to have to same thing arrive here about five years later?
    Only with policy, our masters are clearly impatient these days. They get implemented rather quickly. The teabaggers and their representatives such as Paul Ryan of Wyoming, Rick Snyder of Michigan, are hard at work – with the right-wing echo chamber pounding the message nationally – that greedy public workers were entirely to blame for deficits and an endebted country. These teachers, firemen and so on had had it good for vastly too long, what with their mandated sick-leave, holidays, and even – can you believe it – guaranteed pensions for God’s sake!
    Having ran down rates in the private sector by comparing their pay with counterparts in the private sector, and doing away with pensions in favour of personal “401K” investments on the stock market as an alternative, private employees had their benefits over public sector workers whittled away.
    But having long since accepted lower pay as the price for job security and benefits, public sector workers have the now diminished private sector workers’ conditions held up as an example. How dare you, a public sector worker, expect better than that? These benefits clearly have to go, after all – you’ve got job security. Apart from all those being sacked, of course.
    This absolute crock was served to the US public, and before 2011 was even halfway out, we were being fed the same line here. Following US policy? We’re even following the playbook. Even ALEC is getting involved in setting UK policies these days. Damned shame the little Englanders who rant and rave about Europe don’t appear to have the slightest clue where the orders are really coming from.

  • guano

    Talking of democracy ( dam in Kurdish means blood, cracy from Greek meaning power ), the real reason in Islamic terms for the Syrian revolution is that we are in the days approaching the Day of Judgement when Imam Mahdi is prophecied to appear, and Jesus pbuh due to return to this world in Damascus.
    The fat cats of Saudi Arabia who have jurisdiction over one of the most unequal societies on earth in terms of wealth, power and individual freedom want to be there rather than the Shi’ites who hold sway in Syria at the moment.
    I recently heard a statement on early morning Radio 4 that Saudi Insurance stocks were up. Sorry me old hearties, insurance like interest is forbidden in Islam. So Qatar’s banking obsession (e.g. Barclays ) and Saudi’s ininvolvement with Insurance totally disqualify them from being brokers of Islamic revolution in the Middle East. They themselves are scheduled for reform very soon, most likely for their obscene record of violence most recently in Libya, and soon in Syria, if they have their way.
    Even Sheikh Sudais , the most respected reciter of Qur’an of our present age weighed in with the demand that the butcher ( Assad ) should be removed.
    The Saudis has paid European, and I suspect mainly out of choice UK, mercenaries to snipe at civilians, police and military in Syria, to start a revolution. Assad has predictably responded with force, and the arrogant Saudis accuse him of wrongdoing for the fire they have started with their own tongues and own dirty bonds.
    Of course Assad the elected leader should go, but so should David Cameron. Of course Assad’s father was an assassin, but so was Tony Blair.
    Did you think Islam was just kow-towing to Pope-like authority as in Europe before the one-man stand of Martin Luther against the most comprehensively corrupt tyranny the world has ever seen? Sorry, but it says in the Qur’an that you have to speak out for truth even against your own-self or closest family.
    It would not be a good idea for William Hague to annoy the saviours of Thatcher’s ponzi scheme, the Middle-Eastern oil-men, would it, m’dears? The cat crept into the crypt, crapt, and crept out again. Tory, and arch-Tory Clegg foreign policy on Syria is to do the same.

  • Iain Orr

    Glenn (22 Feb at 1.39 am) “even…guaranteed pensions”. Bull’s eye! Healthy pensions = healthy economy; and an even healthier society – physically and morally

  • Mary

    Google have this at the top of their search page today. When you set it running it is enough to drive one mad. Commemorating Hertz’s 155th birthday.
    Elsewhere Liam Fox comes out of the woodwork to sound off in the Financial Times on behalf of the right wingers. Get rid of employment law and business taxes and all will be well with the economy. What a tosser.
    ‘It is Mr Fox’s first major political intervention since he resigned from the cabinet four months ago over his links to his friend, lobbyist Adam Werritty.’


    PS When I was looking up the link suddenly Craig’s new piece appeared???

  • Mary

    Forgot the Google thing. gif stands for ‘The Graphics Interchange Format, a bitmap image format that was introduced by CompuServe in 1987 and has since come into widespread usage on the World Wide Web due to its wide support and portability’. Never knew that.
    At the moment, there is the best thing on Sky News this year. The Dubliners who are celebrating their 50th anniversary are singing The Black Velvet Band.

  • glenn_uk

    Ingo: It’s been impossible to get more than one box of ammo at a time for a good couple of years now, they ration it because of the incredible demand. Teabaggers, in the main, are terrified that Obama is about to confiscate all their guns, and they’re preparing for the Big Showdown. Mind you, Al Gore was going to come for their guns, so was Clinton, and so was Carter for that matter. Like abortion and gay marriage, it’s the evergreen issue. But on guns, they’re seeing stock-piling of weapons like never before. The police are also militarised as never before. It is indeed – in the words of Greg Palast – an armed madhouse.

  • Courtenay Barnett

    Does this all signal the end of the world as we have known it?

    Will 2012 be the end of the world as we know it?

    World Bank President Zoellick Resigns

    “I’m honored to have led such a world class institution with so many talented and exceptional people. Together we have focused on supporting developing countries to navigate crises and adjust to global economic shifts. The Bank has recognized that we live in a world of multiple poles of growth where traditional concepts of the “Third World” are now outdated…”


    (WASHINGTON) — World Bank President Robert Zoellick said Wednesday he is stepping down, raising the possibility that a non-American might be chosen for the first time to head the 187-nation lending organization.

    Zoellick, 58, informed the board he will leave June 30 at the end of a five-year term, during which he led the bank’s response to the global financial crisis.

    The board now begins looking for a new president under guidelines directors adopted in 2011 calling for an “open, merit-based and transparent selection” process.

    Read more:
    Arrests Made in Italy After Discovery of $6 Trillion in Fake U.S. Bonds
    (CNN) — Italian authorities on Friday arrested eight people in possession of an estimated $6 trillion in counterfeit U.S. Treasury bonds, according to Italian paramilitary police and an Italian news agency.

    The discovery of the fake bonds — made to look as if they were printed by the U.S. Federal Reserve in 1934 — came about as part of an investigation into a local mafia association.

    The arrest order for the alleged criminals was issued by a preliminary investigative judge in the southern Italian city of Potenza, police noted.

    Italian authorities, working with their Swiss counterparts, learned about the counterfeit bonds by way of eavesdropping on wiretapped phones, police said.

    The total of $6 trillion is more than twice the Italy’s national debt.

    read more:

    Four Priests Charged In Vatican Banking Scandal
    Italian investigators have charged four priests with laundering money out of the Vatican’s official bank, the Institute for the Works of Religion, the National Catholic Reporter’s John L. Allen Jr. writes.

    The Italian daily l’Unita was the first to report that the priests were being investigated for laundering hundreds of thousands of dollars.

    It’s the latest in a series of investigations into Vatican finances dating back to 2010. In December of that year, Pope Benedict XVI decreed an updated anti-money laundering law for Vatican finances.

    Read more:
    CFO of ANZ Bank Resigns Amid Turmoil
    February 16, 2012 | 3:26 am

    The chief financial officer of Australia & New Zealand Banking Group Ltd. announced recently that he will resign from the position, a move that will reportedly lead to a significant executive shuffle.

    According to MarketWatch, CFO Peter Marriott says he plans to pursue a non-executive career after spending 15 years as the bank’s finance chief. Marriott will officially leave the financial institution on May 1, at which time institutional banking head Shayne Elliott will reportedly take over the role.

    This move will lead to a number of other changes, as the bank’s head of Asian operations will take on a larger role to include global institutional banking, while a new chief executive for global wealth management and private banking will also be named.

    read more:

    Nicaragua Central Bank Head Quits Amid Row
    By Adam Williams and Blake Schmidt – Feb 15, 2012 3:25 AM GMT+0800

    Nicaragua’s Central Bank President Antenor Rosales quit amid differences with President Daniel Ortega over plans to use central bank reserves for the creation of a regional bank for a Venezuelan-led bloc of Latin American nations, known as Alba.

    Ortega has proposed that Finance Minister Alberto Guevara replace Rosales as head of the central bank, said Edwin Castro, the chief legislator for the ruling Sandinista party, in a statement on a government website today. Castro said the appointment must be approved by lawmakers and didn’t say whether Guevara would continue at the Finance Ministry.

    Castro said Rosales’s resignation was “normal government procedure” and not a result of the disagreement with Ortega.

    In a Feb. 4 meeting of Alba leaders in Caracas, Ortega agreed to put 1 percent of Nicaragua’s international reserves, or about $17 million, toward the Alba bank, according to a statement on a government website. Rosales told reporters in Managua on Feb. 6 that “no one can touch the international reserves of Nicaragua.”

    “The resignation of Rosales sends a bad message to the people of Nicaragua,” opposition legislator Wilfredo Navarro said in comments at the National Assembly broadcast on TV Channel 100% Noticias. “He was defending the legality of the country’s central bank institution. Withdrawing funds for an unknown bank is a violation of the institution.”

    read more:

    Switzerland’s Central Bank Chief Resigns

    Swiss National Bank Chairman Philipp Hildebrand arrives in front of the Swiss National Bank building for a news conference in Bern January 9, 2012. Hildebrand resigned with immediate effect on Monday, relinquishing one of the world’s top 10 central banking jobs because he has been unable to prove he was unaware of a $418,000 currency trade made by his wife.
    Philipp Hildebrand defends his achievements at financial institution as he bows to uproar over private currency deals.
    The Swiss National Bank chairman has resigned abruptly, bowing to a public uproar over his private currency deals.

    Philipp Hildebrand’s decision comes just as a Swiss parliamentary committee is preparing to grill him behind closed doors.

    His resignation took effect immediately on Monday, Switzerland’s central bank said in a brief statement.

    A short time later, Hildebrand called an impromputu press conference in the Swiss capital of Bern, where he emphasised that he was proud of his achievements at financial institutions in Switzerland and international organisations such as the World Bank.

    “I would like to think I have been a damn good central banker,” Hildebrand said.

    read more:

    Credit Suisse’s Private Bank Chief Asian Economist Tan Resigns
    February 20, 2012, 1:17 AM EST

    By Jonathan Burgos

    Feb. 17 (Bloomberg) — Joseph Tan, chief Asian economist of Credit Suisse Group AG’s private bank in Singapore has resigned.

    “I have left Credit Suisse,” Tan, who joined the Swiss bank in September 2008, said. “I’m considering my options at the moment.”

    Tan previously worked at Fortis Bank SA and Standard Chartered Plc. Credit Suisse spokeswoman Juliette Leong confirmed his departure in an e-mail. Today was his last day, she said.


    Embarrassment for Merkel as German president resigns in disgrace after trying to bag the press
    •President Christian Wulff is though to be about to leave his office amid an escalating scandal
    •He is alleged to have accepted free holidays from wealthy friends, upgrades on airlines and discounted cars
    By Allan Hall and David Williams

    Last updated at 1:57 AM on 18th February 2012

    Germany’s president resigned in disgrace yesterday after failing to gag newspapers investigating him over political favours.

    The resignation of Christian Wulff – a victory for Press freedom – is an embarrassing blow to Chancellor Angela Merkel, who had hand-picked her political ally as president.

    In a curt statement at the presidential palace in Berlin, Mr Wulff said he had lost the trust of the German people, making it impossible to continue in a role meant to serve as a moral compass for the nation.

    He was forced to resign after trying to stop German newspapers investigating a home loan scandal involving more than £430,000 received from a businessman friend’s wife – allegations taken up by prosecutors.

    Mr Wulff, 52, whose role was mainly ceremonial, admitted making a ‘grave mistake’ by leaving a message on the answering machine of the editor of Germany’s best-selling Bild newspaper threatening ‘war’ if the daily published a story about his private finance dealings.

    Read more:
    Berlusconi Could Get Five Years
    Italian prosecutors have demanded a five-year prison sentence for former premier Silvio Berlusconi in his trial on corruption charges.

    Prosecutor Fabio De Pasquale urged the court to find Mr Berlusconi guilty of having paid a British lawyer 600,000 dollars (£382,000) to lie in other trials involving charges of tax evasion and false accounting related to the billionaire media mogul’s business dealings.

    The court is racing toward a verdict before the charges expire due to the statute of limitations. Mr De Pasquale calculated that would happen by mid-July.

    This is one of several cases pending against Mr Berlusconi in Milan courts, including a trial on charges of having paid for sex with an underage prostitute.

    He stepped down in November after failing to persuade investors he could revive the ailing economy.


    Blankfein out as Goldman Sachs CEO by summer?
    Exclusive: Goldman Sachs prepares for life after Lloyd Blankfein, and Gary Cohn is the leading candidate to succeed him as CEO.
    Gary Cohn, right, is next in line to replace Lloyd Blankfein, left

    FORTUNE — Lloyd Blankfein may step down as chief executive of Goldman Sachs as early as this summer; and president and chief operating officer Gary Cohn is the lead candidate to replace him, according to a Goldman executive and a source close to the firm.

    A Goldman spokesman declined to comment.

    To be sure, anything can happen over the course of the next few months and the departure of Blankfein, 57, is not certain. It is still up in the air whether Blankfein wants to step down. It would also not be unheard of for Blankfein to share the role of CEO, as so many others at Goldman have in the past. Former co-heads include John Weinberg and John Whitehead; Robert Rubin and Stephen Friedman; and Jon Corzine and Henry Paulson.

    But corporate governance experts have emphasized that leadership changes at the nation’s largest financial institutions go a long way toward helping those firms move past the troubles – particularly the reputational damages – wrought by the financial crisis. The feisty Blankfein, the son of a postal worker who grew up in Brooklyn, is one of the only big bank CEOs to have kept his job after the financial crisis. The other is Jamie Dimon, CEO of JPMorgan Chase (JPM).

    read more:

    Bank feud: Chairman Giles quits VNB with other directors
    A feud over corporate governance compounded an already painful December for a major Central Virginia financial institution. Virginia National Bank has experienced a leadership shake-up that has seen nearly one third of the board of trustees quit including the chairman, Mark Giles.

    “My resignation is effective immediately,” Giles tells President Glenn Rust in a December 19 letter that followed an apparently contentious meeting earlier that day. Neither Rust nor Giles, who spent nearly a decade as the Bank’s first president and who chaired the board since 2005, returned repeated telephone messages.

    Two other board members, Ms. Claire Gargalli and Mr. Leslie Disharoon, also quit that same Monday in what the bank concedes was a disagreement over the composition of its board of directors. A fourth director on the 13-person board, Neal Kassell, resigned two days later for unstated reasons.

    read more:


    From hereon, you can click on the images to read the articles…

    Arrests in Olympus Scandal Point to Widening Inquiry Into a Cover-Up

    Hisashi Mori, the former executive vice president of Olympus, left, and Tsuyoshi Kikukawa, a former chairman and president, were among those arrested
    TOKYO — Arrests of seven people Thursday accused of involvement in the $1.7 billion accounting scandal at Olympus, including the company’s former chairman and executive vice president, point to a widening investigation into a cover-up ostensibly carried out by top management with the help of a group of former bankers.

    Tsuyoshi Kikukawa, who was the company’s chairman until the scandal broke last fall, was arrested in Tokyo as were two other former executives on suspicion of having falsified financial statements, Tokyo prosecutors said. Two former Nomura investment bankers who had been previously mentioned by investigators were also taken into custody, accused of violating securities laws, and so were two of the bankers’ associates.

    By aiming a spotlight on what critics say is Japan’s lax corporate governance, and casting a shadow over one of the country’s former blue-chip companies, the Olympus scandal has become a test of how far Japan is willing to go to fight white-collar crime.

    read more:

    Korea Exchange Bank Chief Steps Down
    SEOUL, Feb. 10 (Yonhap) — The head of South Korea’s No. 5 lender Korea Exchange Bank (KEB) stepped down after completing his three-year term on Friday, and handing over to his successor, the role of completing the deal to sell the bank to a local counterpart.

    Larry Klane, the president of KEB, expressed gratitude to his staff at a farewell ceremony held in central Seoul, for embracing a foreign chief “who’s not used to the country,” adding he did his best to draw a brighter future for the KEB in the midst of financial difficulties.


    Head of Russian Bank Regulator Steps Down
    The head of supervision at Russia’s central bank has resigned after a series of scandals in which regulators failed to detect massive mismanagement in some of Russia’s largest banks. Gennady Melikyan, deputy governor of the central bank in charge of bank supervision, announced he would step down on Sept. 9. He occupied one of the most hazardous jobs in the Russian financial sector – his predecessor Andrei Kozlov was shot dead in 2006 in an assassination-style hit after launching a crusade to…

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    AJK Bank’s Executive Steps Down
    MIRPUR (AJK) – Zulfiqar Abbasi, Member Board of Directors & Member Audit Committee of The Bank of Azad Jammu & Kashmir, has resigned from both his offices as a protest against the non-functioning of the bank in line with the stipulated banking norms, rules and regulations.

    Submitting his resignation to the AJK Minister for Finance Ch Latif Akber, who is also Chairman of the Bank of AJK, Mr Abbasi said that for the last two years he had been insisting the AJK govt to mend their ways towards the affairs of the bank of AJ&K since they were trying to run the bank like a govt department with serious irregularities and violations and their handpicked incompetent management.

    read more:

    Saudi Hollandi Banks MD quits
    RIYADH: Saudi Hollandi Banks Managing Director Geoffrey Calvert has resigned for personal reasons, the bank announced yesterday. On accepting his resignation at the board of directors meeting held yesterday in Riyadh, it was decided to appoint Dr. Bernd Van Linder, general manager of the treasury, to be the acting managing director of the bank succeeding Calvert.

    Mubarak Abdullah Al-Khafrah, chairman of the board of directors, thanked Calvert for his contributions to the development of the bank during his time as managing director. He wished the new acting manager great success. Linder joined the Saudi Hollandi Bank in 2006. He has 12 years banking experience in ABN Amro in different positions.

    read more:

    Ken Ofori-Atta steps down as Executive Chair of Databank Group
    Investment banker, Ken Ofori-Atta has stepped down as the Executive Chair of the Databank Group.

    He announced his retirement from the investment bank on Tuesday. This will relive him of the day-to-day administration of the firm even though he will stay on as the ceremonial chair.

    Mr. Ofori-Atta and Kelly Gadzekpo set up Databank in 1990 and is one of the leading investment banks not only in Ghana but in the sub region. Kelly Gadzekpo is expected to take over as new Chief Executive of the Group.

    Mr. Ofori Atta tells JOY BUSINESS he is forced to step down for health reasons.

    read more:

    Slovenia’s Two Biggest Banks’ CEOs Step Down as Woes Mount
    Nova Ljubljanska Banka d.d. and Nova Kreditna Banka Maribor d.d., Slovenia’s two largest banks, are without chiefs as they struggle with mounting bad loans.

    Andrej Plos, the chief executive officer of Nova Kreditna Banka Maribor, who took the helm of Slovenia’s second-biggest bank in January, offered his resignation today without giving a reason. Bozo Jasovic, the CEO of the larger Nova Ljubljanska Banka d.d. stepped down in December over the bank’s attempt to sell the holding in retailer Mercator Poslovni Sistem d.d. to the Croatian rival Agrokor d.d.

    “It’s actually hard to believe that the biggest lenders are without a proper leadership in such crucial times for the banking sector and as Slovenia sees its credit rating lowered due to a fragile bank system,” Saso Stanovnik, head of research at Ljubljana brokerage Alta Invest d.d., said in an e-mail today. “One can only hope the new leaderships are in place as soon as possible to tackle the problems of the banking sector.”

    Slovenian banks are struggling with mounting losses as the faltering economy pushes more companies into bankruptcy. Lenders in Slovenia, which adopted the euro in 2007, reported 356 million euros ($469 million) of losses last year, the central bank said on Feb. 7.

    read more:

    Social finance pioneer Hayday steps down from Charity Bank
    Malcolm Hayday, CEO and one of the founders of Charity Bank, has decided to step down from the post this year.

    Under Hayday’s leadership, Charity Bank has grown from concept to launching as the world’s first general registered charity that is also an authorised bank.

    This year Charity Bank celebrates its 10th anniversary, with the bank’s balance sheet at the end of 2011 exceeding £80m, an increase of almost 20% on the previous year, and many times the opening figure of £6.4m in 2002. It also expects to report a surplus of over £350,000.

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    Two Top Morgan Stanley Bankers Resign
    NEW YORK (Reuters) – Morgan Stanley’s (NYSE:MWD – news) two top investment bankers resigned on Wednesday, increasing the pressure on Chief Executive Philip Purcell and raising questions about whether the securities firm can remain independent.

    The resignations are the biggest blow yet in a battle raging between Purcell and a group of eight former Morgan Stanley executives seeking to oust him.

    Joseph Perella, Morgan’s investment banking chairman and company vice chairman and one of the best-known bankers on Wall Street, resigned after 12 years at the firm. Tarek “Terry” Abdel-Meguid, a long-time Perella deputy and the head of investment banking, also quit.

    The firm quickly named new co-heads of its Investment Banking Division and said Perella and Meguid had agreed to stay on for an unspecified transition period.

    “Morgan Stanley simply cannot be managed if this much turmoil exists within,” Punk, Ziegel & Co. analyst Dick Bove said. “And if it cannot be effectively managed, I don’t see how Purcell can stay at the top.”

    Morgan Stanley’s board responded directly to the dissidents on Wednesday, criticizing their campaign and reaffirming its support for Purcell.

    At least 10 traders and bankers have left the firm since Purcell shook up management in the securities business late last month. The departure of Perella is especially painful because of his stature on Wall Street and his recent support for Purcell.

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    Key Chavez Minister Resigns Amid Banking Corruption Fallout
    By Jeremy Morgan
    Latin American Herald Tribune staff

    CARACAS — President Hugo Chavez lost one of his closest and oldest collaborators as Science and Technology Minister Jesse Chacon submitted his resignation after his brother was arrested in connection with the crisis in which state control has been imposed on six banks.

    Arne Chacon was arrested by the state security service, DISIP, after three more banks, Banco Real, Baninvest and Central, were “intervened” by the government, in addition to the four banks — Canarias, Banpro, Bolívar and Confederado — that were first taken over on November 20 on orders from Finance Minister Ali Rodriguez Araque. Two stockbroking houses have been raided by Disip and prosecutors since then, one of which is said also to have been put under direct state control.

    Brought before a court, Chacon was ordered to be held in custody pending further investigation of his possible involvement in three banks, reports said. Chacon’s brother, the minister, said that when he’d heard the news “I called the president and told him that in these conditions I would prefer to resign so that there would be no doubt about our transparency in this investigation.”

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    Societe Generale’s Investment Banking Chief Steps Down
    Patrick Kovarik/Agence France-Presse — Getty ImagesMichel Péretié, right, the head of Société Générale’s corporate and investment banking division.
    LONDON — Michel Péretié, head of Société Générale’s corporate and investment banking division, is leaving the French bank to pursue other opportunities.

    Mr. Péretié, who held the position for three years after joining the bank from Bear Stearns, will be succeeded by the division’s chief financial officer, Didier Valet, according to a statement from Société Générale.

    Two other appointments also were announced. Christophe Mianné will become deputy chief executive of the division, while Bertrand Badré has been appointed its chief financial officer.

    The changes will take effect in January.
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    Now that we are witnessing these resignations en masse from the players of the rotten system, we can only ask when will the massive arrests begin?

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  • Iain Orr

    Will this thread close with a bang or a whimper? Courteney Barnett: no doubt there is much of interest in your 3615 word posting, but I might miss the end of the world in the middle of all the detail, which would be a pity and leave me rather lonely. Grateful if your next tsunami stockpot can be boiled down a bit before being used to flavour your sauce.

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