I tweeted a few off the top of my head, as follows -
G4S, Barclays, BP, Enron, Lehman Bros, Trafigura, Union Carbide, Dow. Who have I left out?
- and with the help of the excellent tweeps Zahra, Mike, Joel Benjamin, Guy Lambert, Sue and Mike Parker we rapidly assembled a decent list of corporate miscreants who have cocked up or ripped off in one way or another.
It falls to me to render them in some kind of order, with a brief note of what it was they did wrong. So here goes:
- G4S. Currently in pole position on the grid, for its self-confessed "humiliating shambles" in failing to fulfil its contract in providing security for the London Olympics.
- A4E fraud in Government contract
Undue influence over Police and Politicians
- News International, Rupert Murdoch's outfit
Banks and financial dealers
- Standard Chartered, currently (7Aug2012) accused of laundering $250million to break Iran sanctions.
- HSBC again in the news at number 2, for providing only-too-efficient money laundering services to drug barons. I'm told this is continuing their corporate tradition, because the Hong Kong and Shanghai Bank was the bank of choice for the British Opium Trade.
- Barclays lies a close third, for its rigging of the Libor inter-bank lending rate - an act that undermines trust in the banking system itself.
- Staying with the banks, let us put Northern Rock in next, for their excessively clever securitisation scheme which borrowed money, lent it for mortgages, sold the mortgages on until they crashed, setting off the first UK bank run in 150 years. We should not forget that while they were begging for taxpayers' money, Northern Rock also had billions in a separate Jersey account, which, naturally, they were unable to share with the despised taxpayers.
- There is insufficient space here to recap on the various scrapes that NatWest has been through.
- RBS crashed in the credit crunch, successfully obtaining £1.1 billion from the people. In consideration of this success in hetting this undeserved handout, the RBS executives awarded themselves a bonus of £1 billion. Trebles all round!
There now follows a list of names of other corps who need to be named and shamed. Since I am on holiday in France with shortened online time, I am just going to list the bastards, and add short details of their sins in coming days. Or indeed you can look them up on the Wikipedia.
- Equitable Life big cock-up in which thousands of clients lost large amounts of money.
- Enron hid billions of debt. Shareholders lost $11bn.
- Lehman collapsed through false accounting and the sub-prime mortgage crisis.
- J P Morgan Chase - multiple failings
- BCCI - mismanaged, money laundering.
- Goldman Sachs
- Jarvis - Railtrack sub-contractor responsible for 7 deaths due to substandard points maintenance
- Farepak folded Oct 2006, leaving thousands of savers out of pocket
- Shell in Nigeria - pollution, collusion with state murder of Ken Saro Wiwa
- Exxon (Valdez)
- Union Carbide/Dow - Bhopal
- Distillers, Diageo - thalidomide
- Nestle - selling baby milk powder to poor people
- Anderson Consulting
- Polly Peck
- Southern Cross
- Occidental Petroleum - Piper Alpha
This list overlaps somewhat with the above, but we should remember some special individuals
- Rupert Murdoch
- Bob Maxwell
- Conrad "Lord" Black
- Sylvio Berlusconi
Feel free to ad any suggestions in comments. I will add well-chosen comments to this post. There are many other historic events. There are also other cases which have not yet reached the light of day.
The importance of all this is to demolish the simplistic meme that is running at the moment -
"Private good, Public Bad" The fact is that error exists both in the public and private spheres, and a mature democracy and economy has room for both.
Last but not least, look here for a set of proposals on how to bring the mega-corporations under control.