“Sir Anthony Colman needs to be watchful of the wily attorneys, who may seek again to tempt him to agree to conceal some more financial information which might be awkward for their clients.
The fact is that all those companies are now being funded by the Treasury and we have a right to know what caused this huge mess.”
The Colman Commission – The Importance of Money
The Colman Commission was established about a year ago as a Public Enquiry into the failure of the CL Financial group, some of its subsidiaries, and the Hindu Credit Union. The Commission is also mandated to report on the causes of these costly failures, so that it can make recommendations for possible prosecutions and the regulatory or systemic changes needed to avoid further collapses.
There has been a lot of fresh information revealed at the Commission and that is good, since the public now has a much better view of the various episodes behind the scenes. The sole Commissioner, Sir Anthony Colman, has now made a statement which outlines his progress in this huge and complex matter. Colman expects to take at least one more year and will be continuing his examination of the HCU matter when the CL Financial stage is completed.
Despite all the evidence about staggering sums of money and the heated public discussion that has sparked, I am perturbed by the way the essential information is being handled.
Since it is a Public Enquiry into a huge financial collapse, the financial information has to be front and centre if we are to get at the facts.
It is common knowledge that the link between performance and pay is essential in obtaining quality results in any competitive situation. That basic fact, with which most people would agree, is now seriously challenged by some of the key events in the global financial meltdown. It is beyond the scope of this article to delve into the new learning emerging from this global crisis, suffice to say that the old learning has literally been ‘tested to destruction’.
An unhealthy relationship between pay and performance would be a problem for any company, but in a financial company the issue is worse. That is because the investors expect those companies to endure and prosper, so that they can collect the expected returns.
The Colman Commission will be unable to fulfill its mandate if it does not uncover the relationship between pay and performance in the failed companies. Colman will also need to consider the motives and behaviour of the investors, who must also form a significant part of the story. Without their participation and investments, the failed companies would have had no money to lose.
There is a strong interest in keeping the real figures and circumstances out of the news and some of the main items are –
- The Accounts
- The true levels of salaries, fees, dividends and bonuses
- The identities and sums of money returned to those who have benefited from the bailout
- The delinquent borrowers who owe the failed companies huge sums of money
- The extent to which the failed companies and their chiefs complied with our tax laws
In ‘The Colman Commission – Cloudy Concessions’, published here on 1st September, I pointed out the danger of allowing the HCU claimants to testify without stating the amounts invested for the public record. It was my view that those concessions represented the ‘thin edge of the wedge’ in terms of the entire exercise being a Public Enquiry into a series of financial collapses.
In this recent, third session of evidence Hearings, we have had three examples of the ‘widening wedge’ in respect of financial information. Continue reading