Not just the British bankers. Yesterday, GSK, the British pharma company, was fined $3 billion in the culmination of the investigation into the biggest scandal ever in the pharmaceutical business in America. They were found guilty of promoting unapproved drugs to the underage through the bribery and corruption of doctors. They were found guilty of inflating charges and rampant profiteering. Morally, they were found guilty of a callous disrespect of their customers’ welfare in the pursuit of untold profit.
$3 billion might seem a lot to you, but not to them. GSK made a profit of $40 billion last year and had already written the fine into their annual accounts. Companies like GSK are now prepared to face huge fines rather than miss out of the vast profits available to them if they ignore the law.
I am ashamed to be British oh, I know the Americans and the others are just as bad but, in less than seven days the reputations of two of our leading industries lie in tatters, through their own faults, through their own greed. Once again, we all have to pay the price and not just with our pockets. An Englishman’s word used to be his bond. Where is that honour now?
But the wider question must be whether the corporate world is out of control. Most global corporations have become too big to be controlled by national laws. Laws hold no fear for them. Laws must be strengthened and chief executives subjected personally to the full rigour. If this means prison sentences for the high and mighty, so much the better for all of us.