Wednesday, 29 April 2009

An Eye on Terry Le Sueur

"Private Eye" has another go at Terry Le Sueur in this week's "In the City". It notes how depositors in Jersey banks are told they can rely on the Island's regulators and politicians for "competence and integrity".

Then they go in for the kill - looking at the "fiasco surrounding the £106 million" incinerator whose cost may rise by up to £10 million "because the euro-bill was not 'hedged' against a fall in sterling". As they rightly point out, this is not exactly a glowing example of "competence".

But what of integrity? They comment that "it seems that as much as £4 million may have been spent without the necessary approval." They note that the current Chief Minister Terry Le Sueur is being called before a scrutiny committee to explain this - as he was Treasury minister when the contract was signed. About all they haven't noted is that it was signed with great haste - some call it indecent haste - in the dying days of the last Council of Ministers, barely weeks before a new States was elected - which might account for the lack of oversight.

And integrity gets a further battering from officials whom they say "claim they knew nothing about 'hedging' so sought advice from Royal London Asset Management." It seems that Private Eye has contacted RLAM, and reports that "RLAM says that it was never asked to advise on currency risk." It look as if the officials are being "economical with the truth".

It is often said that Senator Syvret's blog and invective does the Island's reputation no good. In fact, it is probably largely ignored, apart from any focus on Haut de la Garenne. It seems that far more damage is being done by the actions of the States Treasury and the Treasury Minister - because this shows how the Island's administration can fail in competence and intregity - and Private Eye rightly asks if this occurs here, why not elsewhere, with the regulation of financial services. It should be noted that they do not actually cite any examples of that kind of failure - yet!

It is to be hoped that Senator Ben Shenton leaves no stone unturned in exposing the misjudgments and mismanagement that caused this fiasco, so that it may not happen again - including the hasty way in which the contract was signed.

The danger is that only one or two individuals will be singled out as scapegoats, whereas the truth is probably more like that revealed in J.B. Priestley's "An Inspector Calls", where there is a chain of events leading to a disaster, and each person is a link in the chain who must accept their responsibility for the mistakes they made, including the Treasury Minister of the day.

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