Banking really is a sorry business these days. The ex bosses of RBS and HBOS appeared before the Treasury Select Committee today and were left with little choice but to utter fairly abject apologies for the performance of their banks.
Listening closely to their apologies though you would be hard pressed to detect any sense that these were men who were accepting any personal blame for the catastrophe. Oh no. It was all about being sorry for things not having worked out. Sorry for the way things turned out folks, sorry your shareholdings are now worthless, sorry the banks collapsed and had to be rescued with millions from the taxpayers. But no hint of a sorry that these men presided over the mess or took the decisions on buying into financial derivative markets whose risks they barely understood. No hint that they understand that they were culpable of playing fast and loose with other peoples money.
But why would we expect such "masters of the universe" to accept any blame? After all these were the "top men" who deserved millions in bonuses weren't they? If they hadn't got these large bonuses the Banks wouldn't have been able to employ such high fliers would they?
Think for a moment about the crazy decisions these men took. The outrageous risks they took with the banks - other peoples - money. Then compare for a moment what they have done and how they have been dealt with to what happened with Nick Leeson - the man who brought down Barings Bank with his wild speculations. He was jailed.
To say that the British population is fizzing mad about the performance of Bank bosses is a huge understatement. In an earlier age these men would be getting lynched by the mob. The government has yet to decisively restrict the bank boss bonus culture which provided the perverse incentives which drove these men. If we are to feel that justice is being done then this is a minimum first step. Directors, Chairmen and Chief Executives of companies owe a duty of care to their shareholders and there are still serious questions to be answered as to whether men such as these fulfilled that duty.
Sorry? They don't know the meaning of the word.