Kwasi Kwarteng is I’m sure an intelligent man, but by arguing that fraud is not “real crime” or “what people feel” replaces the actual data, he is downplaying the impact of crime on ordinary citizens whilst trying to defend his lying Prime Minister pic.twitter.com/GzsimkrJOZ
— nazir afzal (@nazirafzal) February 6, 2022
On the BBC this morning Kwasi Kwarteng was asked about the statement made by the PM in the Commons this week that crime had gone down by 14%. As has been quickly pointed out, this is a statistical sleight of hand – or a flat out lie, as those of us not educated at Eton, Cambridge and Harvard Universities then working as a columnist at the The Daily Telegraph and a financial analyst at an investment bank might put it. It can only be said if you ignore crimes of fraud. When this was put to him, he stated that while fraud was important it is not what people worry about on the doorstep. No, of course not. Feelings – which conveniently cover up another Prime Ministerial lie – are much less important than actual facts. Unless you’re one of those people who become victims of a fraud, a crime largely ignored and left uninvestigated by the police. (As at June 2019 there were 3,863,000 crimes of fraud recorded. Of these only about 1 in 20 result in a conviction.)
Kwasi’s attitude – that somehow fraud is not a “real” crime to ordinary people is all too prevalent. Permit me to write here what I wrote on November 14 2018, the day after Kweku Adoboli, responsible for the UK’s biggest fraud (£1.5 billion) was finally extradited to his home country, 2,185 days after he was convicted of two counts of fraud by abuse of position.
“Fraud is too often seen a a victimless or somewhat technical crime or, perhaps more accurately, the victims, especially institutions, are seen as unsympathetic and partly responsible for their plight. After all, who cares if an arrogant bank loses some money. They are not like some naive widow conned out of her life savings. Who gets hurt, really?“
Well, Mr Kwarteng? What about that naive widow? Does she not matter? If Ministers cannot be bothered to include crimes of fraud when reporting to Parliament, why should the police bother taking them seriously either?
“The damage that fraud does is not the loss of money, bad as that can be. Nor is it even the damage to reputation – and that can be very bad indeed and much more long-lasting than most think.
Fraud is damaging because it is so corrosive of the trust that is the essence of banking, that is – or should be – at the heart of any working environment, at the heart of any good relationship with colleagues, bosses, clients, the public, at the heart of any well-functioning community. Fraud breaks those bonds of trust. When someone is trusted and they let you down by lying, by cheating, by taking advantage, by behaving like Adoboli did, like many other fraudsters have done, real people are hurt.
Worse – the very idea of having confidence – in the institution, in your colleagues, in banking as a dependable underpinning of our society – is damaged and takes time to rebuild. A fraudster does not just destroy their own reputation. Their actions chip away at the reputation of everyone else in their sector. And they make it just that bit harder for those people – however good, however hard-working, however trustworthy – to be trusted by others, by the public.
That is the real harm that fraud does. We would do well to take it more seriously than we do.”
As in finance, so in politics.
Badly said, Mr Kwarteng. Badly said, indeed.
PS Cyclefree was in charge of the investigation team which worked with the City of London Police on the Adoboli investigation and prosecution. She received a Certificate of Achievement from the City of London Police for the work of her and her team on this case.