February 20th, 2009
02:33 PM GMT
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I had a late night phone call from a friend in the Caribbean. He had money on deposit at Stanford Bank in Antigua - not a fortune, just his savings in a certificate of deposit. Money he can no longer access.

Customers queue outside the Stanford Group-owned Bank of Antigua in St. John's.
Customers queue outside the Stanford Group-owned Bank of Antigua in St. John's.

Worse - his Stanford credit card no longer works since Visa has suspended all Stanford plastic. That has ramifications for things like telephone bills which are paid directly using the cards.

In short, he is facing the complete collapse of his financial affairs. My friend is one of many tens of thousands who have been affected by this case. Some savers in the U.S. will be covered by government deposit insurance. Those in the Caribbean and Central America will be less fortunate.

These are not the wealthy victims of Bernie Madoff. Mostly these are working people who used Stanford as their local bank, for everyday transactions like checking, certificates of deposits and small loans.

The employees in the Caribbean were bank tellers and administrators, not the hedge fund masters found elsewhere. Sure, Stanford was an "offshore" bank - but it was responsible for some very onshore duties.

Some years ago, when living outside Britain, I actually thought about opening an account with Stanford. The only reason I didn't was because of the time and trouble of changing direct payments from my existing bank.

I slept well last night. My friend did not.

Have you ever been affected by a bank failure ? How did you cope ? Did your family have to lend you money ? Join this discussion so we can understand what it's really like.

February 11th, 2009
11:37 AM GMT
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Watching politicians dissect the bankers responsible for some of the worst of the financial crises has been very satisfying - but it has brought out the very worst in me: the drive for revenge.

The former chairmen and CEOs of HBOS and Royal Bank of Scotland had an uncomfortable time being questioned by the UK Treasury Select Committee, a government panel investigating how these financial giants ended up needing multi-billion dollar bailouts.

They all duly said sorry, and then tried to tell us why it really wasn't their fault the banks collapsed, and that they'd personally lost more money than most.

But I wanted more. I wanted mea culpas of the gravest kind. "It happened on my watch. I am responsible. It is my fault." And of these there was naught.

Some came across with great sincerety. Former HBOS chairman Lord Stevenson, seemed truly troubled by what had taken place.

Others gave the impression this had been a nasty setback to an otherwise nakedly ambitious career - For instance Andy Hornby of HBOS's failure to acknowledge any personal culpability. It is easy to see why, for some, he has become a poster child for banking excess.

I am not proud of myself for wanting this revenge. But since we will be paying for these men's (and others) mistakes for years to come I feel justified.

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