Northern Rock – rotten abuse of charity

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The FT blog has a post on it that reproduces a statement from Down's Syndrome North East, which says:

In connection with the current problems of Northern Rock, we would like to assure our members and supporters that Down's Syndrome North East (DSNE) has not been knowingly involved in any misuse of money. We are investigating why our charity appears to have been named as a beneficiary of a Trust without our consent. We have definitely not received any money from Northern Rock or affiliated companies, except for a one-off donation from a staff collection in 2001. Currently we have not received notification that any funds are being raised or collected by Northern Rock or affiliated companies on our behalf.

Why is this necessary? I explain why here.

As the FT says:

All this was dug up three weeks ago by Richard Murphy, a tax expert and forensic accountant, who runs his own blog.

While a piece on the matter subsequently appeared in Private Eye, he finds it staggering that no one in the mainstream media has seized on these details - and, reading through his detailed explanations of how Granite operates, we tend to see his point.

A charity's name and status has been used without its consent to create an opaque financial monstrosity. Those doing the structuring presumably banked substantial fees - but not a penny of this has flowed through to the Down's kids involved.

I said at the time that the whole Northern Rock financing structure was:

An abuse of the charity involved, who (I stress) need not even have given their assent to be used in this way

It transpires that I am right.

I agree with the FT writer who says:

Perhaps those who profited from Granite should reach into their pockets. Lead underwriters on the Granite programme were Lehman Brothers, Merrill Lynch, and UBS. Underwriters were Barclays Capital, Citigroup, JP Morgan and Morgan Stanley.

And so should the Northern Rock Foundation. And if the Down's Syndrome North East association can't use it all, spread it out a bit by all means. But stop abusing common decency in the pursuit of exploitation, now.

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