Sir Philip Green has been described by the good Frank Field (chair of the Work and Pensions Select Committee) as the “unacceptable face of capitalism”. Strong words to be sure – and the added comparison to Robert Maxwell surely stung – but, c’mon now, let’s get serious…
This is the face of capitalism.
What did Green do?
- He sold his retail company to a mate, Dominic Joseph-Andrew Chappell – a man with three bankruptcies to his (incredibly cunty) name and no prior experience of retail management – for £1
- Guarantors to the sale were given “unrealistic” figures, with the Goldman Sachs’ stamp of approval
- Chappell brought in his mates to fill directorships (what’s the betting that one of them wasn’t called Horatio-Bonky-Gunterballs?)
- Chappell and his mates stripped what they could – including the employees’ pension pot – from the rapidly deceasing BHS (describing one withdrawal of over £1 million as “a drop in the ocean”, so what are the employees moaning about?)
- Most of this money ends up in off-shore accounts, one of which is in the name of a certain Tina Green
- Company sinks and the state is left to pick up the pieces – in this case, the pieces are former low-paid workers who suddenly don’t have money left aside for a rainy day
Is it also worth mentioning that, as Chappell and co.’s accounts are offshore, they’re not contributing tax to the very state that is now obliged to fix this mess?
But I ask you: what part of this is illegal? What makes it unacceptable exactly? It’s all some jolly good free enterprise – the market showing its supremacy over state interference.
If you wish to read the Select Committee’s conclusions, you may find them here. Here’s a quote from the report:
Goldman Sachs provided free advice to Sir Philip on the transaction, having turned down the opportunity to be formally engaged. In doing so, they hoped to maintain a longstanding and lucrative relationship with a wealthy client. Goldman Sachs told us that their role was limited to providing some “preliminary observations” on the proposals. It is clear that their subsequent involvement went considerably beyond that. They enabled their prestigious name to be cited as that of “gatekeeper” to the transaction. This added lustre to an otherwise questionable process. Lack of clarity about their role evidently caused confusion for some parties to the transaction. Goldman Sachs should have been either “in” or “out” of the deal, and demonstrably so. As it was, they had authority without accountability
Authority without accountability. Ah, there’s the wonderful Third Way Blair promised us.