This has been a fruitful week or so for “alternative truths” from the lips of our leading ministers and bankers here in this northern corner of Europe.
So much for our famous Nordic transparency and our reputations as the least corrupt countries in the world.
Ministers just can’t be trusted
In a joint last press conference, just days before the resignation of the Finnish government, the Minister of Justice, the Minister of Health and the most senior civil servant all said that only “fine tuning” is necessary for the Healthcare Reform Act to be cleared by the Constitutional Committee before the final voting in the Finnish Parliament.
So much for the great legal expertise of our Minister of Justice! Those “finely tuned” amendments, that had been hastily put together were thrown out as totally unacceptable amendments by the Constitutional Committee, and that fiasco was followed by the government’s resignation!
After 4 years of wasted money, time and energy on a hopeless policy of “New Counties” and poorly planned proposals of fake “Freedom of Choice”, these governing 3 parties started to present completely different plans for the healthcare reform in their election manifestos!
… and that was not the only mess.
Both the Center Party and the Conservatives both broke their 2015 election promises that they would not cut the nation’s education budget – which they did. These eduction budget cuts were almost equal to the costs of the failed healthcare reform.
Nordic Bank CEO’s caught denying money-laundering
The CEO’s of Danske Bank and Swedbank, two of the largest banks in the Nordic region, have also given us a real treat this last few weeks on how not to deal with alleged criminal activities in their respective banks.
Both banks are being investigated by regulators and law enforcement agencies in Europe and in the USA for allowing clients to launder money in the Baltic countries with other clients connected to Russia.
The CEO’s denied any wrongdoing at first, followed by admissions that something in that direction may have happened! Both CEO’s were responsible for Baltic activities during some very profitable years before being elevated to the top of their banks. You can guess where the profits were made, but nobody is admitting that.
As more news trickled out from the media about what appears to be very large-scale money laundry activities, both of the CEO’s were fired.
The lessons from these 2 banks, which are also admitted by Nordea, the Nordic’s largest bank, are either one of the following:
- Top management had no idea what goes on downstairs, or
- They knew what has been happening, but assumed that they will not get caught, or
- If they are caught, they then probably believed that expensive lawyers with fight for their innocence in the courts.
So far the only people to “suffer” are the 2 CEO’s while it appears that nobody is going to prison for breaking money laundering laws.
Shareholders are naturally pretty unhappy because they have seen bank share prices sink fast…
The true lesson from these stories is that the board and top management of banks have very little real control over what happens downstairs because the bigger the bank the greater the chances that funny activities can go on. The more money these activities generate the less incentive to stop them…
That is exactly one of the important reasons why big banks should never be allowed to merge.