BBC Trust chairman scandal – money laundering – HSBC $1.9bn fine – deferred prosecution agreement – What Next?
1. Rona Alison Haig – Her career before the BBC trust chairman appointment
a. Rona Haig was born in Cumbria in 1961. Her parents are Scots who hailed from Edinburgh where their families were well connected in Scottish society. Educated at Yarm Grammar School, near Stockton-on-Tees, North East England before attending St Catharine’s College, Cambridge; she was president of the University’s law society before graduating with a double first in law (LL.B). She later obtained a Masters in Business Administration from Harvard Business School.
b. Haig’s early business career was spent at consultants Bain & Company. She was one of the 100-plus “Bainies” who worked on the notorious Guinness acquisition of Distillers. “It was a huge success aside from the scandal,” she says. http://fortune.com/2012/01/15/bain-a-consulting-firm-too-hot-to-handle-fortune-1987/ The business exposed one of the all-time financial scandals which resulted in Ernest Saunders, Chairman of Guinness and three other senior financial movers being jailed for corruption and fraud. Full report here: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/1723136.stm
c. She also worked for Morgan Stanley, again in the 1980s, before she moved to British Aerospace as an independent consultant in 1991. Later in 1991 she moved to Short Brothers shortly after it was bought by Bombardier Inc. She rose to become vice-president for corporate strategy and public affairs in 1994 and then vice-president, UK aerospace services in 1995.
d. In 1996, she became director of planning and acquisitions for Imperial Chemical Industries before joining the company’s executive management team as executive vice-president for planning and communications in 1997, and continuing as executive vice-president for strategy and control from 1998 to 2001. From 2002 to 2006, Haig served as chief financial officer for Pearson PLC.
e. As Fairhead she moved to the Financial Times Group (a subsidiary of Pearson) in 2006 as chief executive. She oversaw the sale of several of the group’s other titles during her tenure. She also serves as a non-executive director on the boards of several large corporations, including HSBC Holdings and PepsiCo and as a “business ambassador” for UK Trade & Investment.
f. She stepped down from her Financial Times role in 2013 after being overlooked for the position of Chair of the Pearson Group when the post was vacated by the previous incumbent, Marjorie Scardino. Her leaving package was estimated to be worth over £1 million in addition to stock options estimated at over £3 million—a contributing factor to a shareholder revolt at Pearson’s annual general meeting in April 2014. Comments in the press at the time:
“It’s unusual—rare, even—for the CEO of a major financial news and information concern to serve on the board of directors of a giant global bank. There’s a reason for that. Rona Fairhead, who heads the Financial Times Group, the unit of British publishing and education giant Pearson PLC that owns the Financial Times newspaper, sits on the board of HSBC, the banking behemoth now engulfed in a money-laundering and corporate-governance scandal.
Long story short, a Senate report this week found that HSBC let Mexican drug lords launder billions in blood money, intentionally helped rogue states, especially Iran, get around U.S. sanctions, and did business with an Al Qaeda-connected Saudi bank. That’s quite a list, and it’s just a partial one for the sake of brevity. So, the FT has to cover the HSBC scandal, while the CEO of its parent is on the board responsible for the bank’s oversight. Not helping matters, Fairhead chaired the board’s Audit Committee, which at the time, was broadly responsible for making sure management’s internal controls were adequate. Those systems failed, and amidst several law-enforcement investigations into its anti-money laundering controls, the bank created a Risk Committee, which Fairhead heads. The FT hasn’t mentioned its boss’s position in its coverage, though to be fair, no one else has either. But it’s the FT reporters who must report on a company that includes the boss on the board. – See more at: http://www.cjr.org/the_audit/when_a_news_executive_sits_on.php
g. She and her husband Tom are close friends of George Osborne, his wife and the Tory party inner circle. They also readily mix with the Downton Abbey estate set in which they have one of their homes.
2. July 31 2014: The hunt for a new BBC Trust boss has become a mess
a. Two more leading candidates have pulled out of the race to become the new head of the BBC Trust amid accusations that the process has descended into a “mess”. Sir Howard Stringer, the former Sony chief executive, and Michael Portillo, the former Conservative defence secretary, were both approached about the role but decided not to apply. A total of nine candidates have now pulled out including Lord Coe, the Olympics chief who had been the Prime Minister’s preferred choice, Dame Marjorie Scardino, the former chief executive of Pearson, and Sir Peter Bazalgette, chairman of the Arts Council.
b. Despite the setbacks Sir Jeremy Heywood, cabinet secretary, and leader of the UK’s civil service exercising his power decided to press on and will begin interviewing the remaining shortlisted candidates today. Sajid Javid, the Culture Secretary, believes that the shortlist remains “strong”. However Greg Dyke, the former director general of the BBC, said that the job is “unattractive” because the trust is likely to be abolished under the royal charter review in 2016.
3. August 31 2014: Rona Fairhead named as the government’s favoured candidate to take over as BBC Trust chairman.
a. Fairhead, a non-executive director of HSBC and PepsiCo, (she chairs the bank’s North American board and sits on the nominations and risk committees) will be questioned by the Commons media committee before ministers make the final decision. If selected, she would make history by becoming the first female chairman of the trust.
b. Announcing the selection of Mrs Fairhead yesterday, Mr Javid appeared confident she had all the necessary attributes to take on the job. He said: “Rona Fairhead is an exceptional individual with a highly impressive career history. Her experience of working with huge multinational corporations will undoubtedly be a real asset at the BBC Trust. “I have no doubt she will provide the strong leadership the position demands and will prove to be a worthy champion of licence fee payers. “I am sure that under Rona’s leadership the BBC will continue to play a central role in informing, educating and entertaining the nation.”
c. Fairhead has strong Conservative Party political connections serving as a non-executive director at the Cabinet Office, a role she will be required to relinquish if her appointment is confirmed. Awarded a CBE in 2012 and appointed as one of the Prime Minister’s business ambassadors earlier this year she, at the start of her tenure of office will take on the difficult task of renegotiating the corporation’s funding agreement ahead of the new royal charter being granted in 2016. There is also likely to be a heated debate over the future of the licence fee, with many complaining that they should not have to pay the £145.50 annual levy.
d. Fairhead said: “The BBC is a great British institution packed with talented people, and I would be honoured to have the opportunity to be the chairman of the BBC Trust. “I am under no illusions about the significance and the enormity of the job but I am excited to have the chance to lead the BBC through the coming years.”. David Cameron will have a final official say on the appointment, ahead of formal approval from the Queen. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/tvandradio/bbc/11065639/Businesswoman-Rona-Fairhead-the-preferred-choice-for-next-BBC-Trust-chairman.html
4. September 1 2014: Rona Fairhead to be the Chair of the Board of Trustees of the BBC – Excuse me but I am still reeling from shock
a. Rona Fairhead is Chair of HSBC North America Holdings Inc. According to Andrew Trotman in the Telegraph, at the time HSBC were fined $1.9bn in the US for money laundering, she was chair of the, “group risk committee” and was replaced in that role when the bank signed their deferred prosecution agreement.
b. David Cameron approved her appointment (probably insisted on it). Remember it was David Cameron who made Stephen Green a Lord and trade minister, the man who was the Chair of HSBC Group at the time of the Mexican drug money laundering and sanctions busting/terrorist connections.
c. This is extraordinary arrogance by the establishment – to blatantly appoint people involved in such crimes. Laundering drug/terrorist money is not just about money and the law – it is about large scale murder, torture and human suffering. Rather than holding top positions in the establishment these people should be in prison.
d. I guess the appointment might help explain why 2 teams from Panorama; Newsnight, Moneybox and Radio5 Live have all looked with at the story and subsequently not reported it. They certainly won’t now.
e. I assume that Rona Fairhead will relinquish her role at HSBC on taking up the appointment, but given the arrogance of these people I wouldn’t bet on it. http://nicholaswilson.com/crime-pays-in-camerons-uk-plc/
5. September 1 2014: Rona Fairhead, the Government’s preferred candidate to take over as the BBC’s first female chairman faces a grilling from the Media Select Committee
a. Fairhead will appear before a Commons select committee next week before a final decision is reached over the BBC Trust role. The former head of the Financial Times group has been approved by the Prime Minister to succeed Lord Patten. If confirmed in the post, she will be paid £110,000 a year for a three-day working week.
b. Tory MP Philip Davies, a member of the culture, media and sport select committee, said she faced questions over her role as a non-executive director on the board of banking giant HSBC. The banking group was fined £1.2billion in 2012 for breaching US money-laundering laws and was described as the ‘bank of choice’ for Mexican drug gangs. Mr Davies said: ‘I want to know what she knew about that scandal and what she did to try to prevent it and what she did to investigate it. ‘Second, there is a question mark over her lack of experience in broadcasting and the regulation of broadcasting, which are obviously key elements of being the BBC Trust chairman.’ Mr Davies added: ‘We need to ask if she only got the job because she is a woman. I am not saying that Rona Fairhead is the wrong candidate, but our job as a committee is to ask searching questions of any candidate who is put forward for this job.’
c. She could also face questions over her political links, having been appointed as a British business ambassador by David Cameron earlier this year. She is also a non-executive member of the Cabinet Office board but will stand down if her selection to chair the BBC Trust is confirmed. Cabinet Secretary Sir Jeremy Heywood was on the preliminary interview panel for candidates for the BBC Trust role. After questioning Mrs Fairhead on Tuesday of next week, members of the Commons select committee will vote on whether they believe she is a suitable candidate and their decision will be put before Mr Cameron for final approval.
6.September 10 2014: Preferred BBC Trust chair candidate Rona Fairhead defends licence fee during CMS committee appearance
a. Businesswoman Rona Fairhead told MPs on the Culture, Media and Sport Committee she was not “an establishment figure” and shrugged off reports she had been offered the job because the Government wanted a woman in the role. She said she had been approached by head-hunters and had not discussed her application with anyone in the Government, saying: “I felt the process was, for my mind, a standard process.”
b. Fairhead said the BBC’s governance structure was “very complex”, but added: “If I didn’t think it was workable at all, I wouldn’t have taken on the role”. She told MPs the licence fee was the “most appropriate way to fund” the corporation. She said: “When I look at the current system on a licence fee basis, I think there are some very, very, significant benefits of the licence fee. It ensures independence, it ensures a universal service for a universal fee and I think it ensures creative freedom.”
c. The former chief executive of the Financial Times group is the Government’s “preferred candidate” to head up the Trust. Asked by committee member Philip Davies MP if she was “an establishment figure”, she said: “I would not have counted myself as an establishment figure and I hope through this process you’ll see I’m independent of mind and view.”
d. Fairhead said there was “very little doubt” the BBC “has had a tough time over recent years” but it remained “a vitally important institution in the UK”. She refused to comment on whether her immediate predecessor, a former Conservative MP, had done a good job and said she had never “been politically active”. She told MPs her husband had been a Conservative councillor, adding: “But it’s not my husband applying for this role, it’s myself.”
e. Fairhead, who confirmed she received a pay-off of more than £1m when she left her previous role at Pearson, said criticism of excessive pay-offs at the BBC had been “legitimate”. The corporation was heavily criticised over excessive payouts given to senior staff including £470,000 to former director general George Entwistle after only 54 days in the job and £680,000 to former chief operating officer Caroline Thomson. Deputy director general Mark Byford departed the BBC with a total payout of £949,000. Fairhead said her pay-off was “clearly a lot of money”, adding: “I’m not going to apologise that I came from the private sector but I think when you’re in the public sector world you have to look at funding through a different lens.”
f. Alternatives to the BBC’s traditional funding method have been proposed by politicians, performers and former corporation staff in the run-up to the renewal of its charter, which expires in 2016. In May, Culture Secretary Sajid Javid said “everything” would be looked at, including licence fees and governance structures, when negotiations get under way. Senior Tories have previously called the compulsory annual charge made to viewers – currently frozen at £145.50 a year – out of date and warned it faces the axe but BBC executives insist a subscription system could end up costing more money. The renewal negotiations will take place on the back of a torrid few years that have seen the corporation lambasted for its handling of the Jimmy Savile scandal, massive executive pay-offs and a Newsnight investigation that led to the late Lord McAlpine being wrongly accused of child abuse. http://www.pressgazette.co.uk/preferred-bbc-trust-chair-candidate-rona-fairhead-defends-licence-fee-during-cms-committee
7. September 2014: Rona Fairhead. The BBC’s chairman-elect is being sued over her involvement in the HSBC money-laundering scandal.
a. Rona Fairhead, who is set to become the first woman to lead the corporation, had her appointment approved by MPs yesterday. But hours after the Commons hearing it emerged the 53-year-old is facing a class action lawsuit by HSBC shareholders over allegations the bank allowed terrorists and Mexican drug cartels to launder money. Mrs Fairhead chaired the bank’s ‘risk committee’ in 2012, when it was fined £1.2billion by US authorities to settle allegations that it allowed drug traffickers to launder millions of pounds. The bank was also accused of breaching sanctions against Cuba, Iran, Libya, Burma and Zimbabwe.
b. Michael Mason-Mahon, an HSBC shareholder who filed the case in a New York court on May 7, said it would be an ‘obscene joke’ to appoint Mrs Fairhead to head the BBC given her senior role at the bank. He wants the US courts to force her and 88 other directors to repay the fines the bank incurred over the scandal. He said: ‘Mrs Fairhead’s credentials are great, as long as you ignore what she’s done at HSBC for the past ten years. Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2750024/New-BBC-chief-sued-allegations-HSBC-laundered-terrorists-drug-cartels-money-time-chairman-bank-s-risk-committee.html
8. September 12 2014: Putting the bankster foxes in charge of the BBC henhouse
a. What a rare moment of razor-sharp clarity this week as a spotlight was shone deep into the rotten heart of Westminster, Whitehall and the City of London. The Daily Mail revealed, one day after her appointment, that new BBC chief, Rona Fairhead, is being sued for supervising the laundering of billions of dollars for the Mexican drug cartels. From the Establishment dominated corporation there was not a hint of repentance, instead a secret gagging edict was issued to BBC staff not to mention or discuss the fact anywhere, specially on social media. Rather than running the BBC as HSBC ‘Head of Risk’ Ms. Fairhead has just been appointed to do, the bank’s crooked bosses should be being investigated by the corporation and prosecuted by Scotland Yard.
b. Not only have the bank that was built on the illegal Hong Kong Shanghai opium trade committed every fraud in the book, they were also fleecing rail passengers in a cartel of three Rolling Stock Operating Companies (ROSCOs). HSBC owned until 2010 ‘Eversholt Rail Group’, which has a virtual monopoly in leasing trains to privatised operating companies which mean British commuters pay up to ten times more than their continental counterparts to get to and from work every day. Millions of Brits await the BBC Panorama documentary exposing Rona’s firm’s crimes but we better not hold our breath if she is allowed to take up her post. http://rt.com/op-edge/187340-bbc-911-money-tv/
9. October 9 2014: Rona Fairhead, former head of the Financial Times Group, has been officially confirmed as the chairwoman of the BBC Trust.
a. The new chair remains a non-executive director of both HSBC and PepsiCo. As the first woman to be appointed, Rona Fairhead had to answer MP’s questions about her ability to look after her children if she took on the extra workload and about her husband’s political affiliations. She also refuted the implication that she had been favoured for the role because she is a woman – Is gender important to the trust role? “No, it should be the person who has skills for role.” – If it is true that PM Cameron preferred a woman for the role he did indeed get his wish on gender and merit. Fairhead is widely accepted as a worthy choice and a strong leader.
10. November 13 2014: BBC Trust Chairman, (chairman of HSBC North America Holdings Inc) caught up in bank scandal
a. The new, £110,000, part-time BBC Trust chairman, Rona Fairhead – there to keep the Corporation honest – must be embarrassed by HSBC’s multi-million-pound fine for rigging foreign exchange markets. She is a highly-paid non-executive director of the bank in Britain and chairman of HSBC North America, which in 2012 was fined $1.9billion by US authorities for failing to implement money-laundering controls. I hope this doesn’t deter the BBC from opening this can of worms.
11. October 21 2014: BBC Trust chair and culture secretary give evidence to the Commons culture, media and sport committee
a. Grilled on the future of the BBC. Culture Secretary Sajid Javid says a “fresh look” at BBC governance model is needed and he is “ruling nothing out” looking at future funding options for the BBC but the Royal Charter will remain in place, other options risk threat to independence.
b. Fairhead denies “going native” after just two weeks in the role but says the controversial plan to move BBC3 online only “in and of itself good”
12. November 7 2014: MP’s write to BBC Tust chairman asking that all Political parties be included in the 2015 election television debates. https://www.snp.org/sites/default/files/news/file/cross_party_letter_to_bbc_trust.pdf
13. Thomas Fairhead Husband of Rona Haig. fingers in many pies.
a. His family tree can be traced back to the 13th century. Major landowners in Essex and the south East of England – Tory party – major figures in London financial markets http://www.fairhead.org.uk/histories/essexfarmers.pdf
b. Tom is chief executive of Campbell Lutyens. a group of private companies focused on building materials and waste management and renewables infrastructure. He is an Honorary Alderman of The Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea, a London Borough which is one of the few European public authorities rated AAA by Standard & Poors, and for 6 years from 2004 to 2010 he was the Cabinet Member with responsibility for its finances. Previously he had spent ten years at Credit Suisse First Boston specialising in international mergers and acquisitions and in technical and financial engineering.
c. September 15 2014: But the neighbours are not happy. Tom Fairhead, plans to construct a huge waste centre in rural Essex, to the horror of the locals.
d. New BBC Trust chairman Rona Fairhead, won over MPs when she was grilled at Westminster last week, but her husband Tom needs to embark on his own charm offensive. His company, Gent Fairhead, plans to construct a huge waste centre in rural Essex, to the horror of the locals. Mirroring a storyline from BBC radio drama The Archers, the plans include a controversial anaerobic digestion plant, which treats organic waste to create electricity. Opponents point to the smell and noise, as well as heavy vehicles coming in and out of the plant, which will be one of the largest waste facilities in Europe.
e. James Abbott, a Green Party councillor, leading opposition to the waste centre. ‘The Fairheads are big landowners who are trying to urbanise and industrialise this area. I own land myself, but I want to keep it countryside.’ the proposed plant, at RAF Rivenhall, a disused Second World War airfield near Braintree, will handle more than 800,000 tonnes of industrial and commercial waste. Abbott opposes the size of the plant, arguing that waste will be brought in from around the country and Europe to a location that is completely unsuitable. He claims up to 400 vehicle movements a day will be added to a busy A-road that is already a hotspot for collisions.
f. Ex-merchant banker Tom is a former Tory councillor in Kensington and Chelsea, who lives with Rona in a £4million home in West London. They are said to be friendly with Chancellor George Osborne and his wife, Frances. They also rent a home in the grounds of Highclere Castle — where Downton Abbey is filmed — in Hampshire. ‘He is from a big land-owning family in the area and yet not one of the Conservatives who control the county council declared an interest,’ says Abbott. ‘It could be that none of them know him, but I’d be surprised.’
g. A spokesman for Fairhead’s project team has said it is committed to sustainability. ‘The project will provide a fully integrated state-of-the-art recycling and recovery facility,’ he said. ‘Work that has been completed over the past few years has developed a design that promotes best technology and environmental sustainability.’
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/debate/article-2757054/SEBASTIAN-SHAKESPEARE-BBC-chief-s-husband-stink-waste-centre-Essex.html#ixzz3IzJhJL1b