With the third Grant Thornton Report due out sometime today or tomorrow on the details surrounding the statutory management of nearly a dozen Allan Hubbard charitable trusts and businesses and a decision due within weeks from the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) over possible fraudulent business practices on the part of Mr Hubbard and the business that he had financial and personal control over, it is looking doubtful as to whether Mr Hubbard is going to have to answer to his crimes.
I say this not because he hasn't committed fraud or been responsible for hoodwinking investors and taxpayers because he clearly has. The reason that I say what I am saying is that the track record for the SFO, the Securities Commission and a whole host of other financial regulatory bodies has been poor when it comes to actually prosecuting the perpetrators of financial crimes.
Just yesterday a Partner of Ernst & Young was found guilty for breaches in accounting disclosures for Feltex Carpets. Feltex Carpets directors all walked away scott free. Of the directors and CEOs of failed finance companies that have been brought to court, we have seen a myriad of them walk away from court proceedings either without any censure or with a small fine or a slap on the hand with a dry bus ticket.
Nobody has gone to jail, nobody has had a serious fine and it looks likely that nobody will.
These are the Hotchins, the Watsons the Bryers et al.
Of course this is unacceptable to most of us. These financial criminals have ripped off investors, through fraud, subterfuge and their own base greed, many investors have lost all they had and their lives are ruined and some have even taken the final solution.
The Allan Hubbard case appears to be no different. He has been rightly tarred with the same brush as the aforementioned and has the ignominious position as one of the few of these criminals to end up costing the taxpayer billions of dollars as his empire collapsed around him.
I would like to think that this case might be different and that Mr Hubbard and his fellow directors will be doing prison time for their misdeeds but either laws surrounding our financial regulatory regime are weak (they clearly are in my opinion) and or the prosecutors within our various financial regulators are sub-par.
Either way Mr Hubbard stands a good chance of getting away with his swindle even if he is found guilty of the accusations to be brought against him over the coming days and weeks.
Lets hope not.
Related Share Investor Reading
Download Grant Thornton Report 2
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Allan Hubbard Saga: 60 Minutes Interview, Sept 23 2010
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Allan Hubbard Saga: Threats & the Mysterious PWC Report
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Thornton Report 2: Allan Hubbard Guilty as Charged
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c Share Investor 2010