The UK is in the midst of an avalanche of corruption, yet as if by magic, it will not place the multiple scandals on hold and distract itself with a feast of Olympic sport. The festivities may indeed bring joy to the public at large, although an abundance of press reports suggest Londoners are grumpy about everything from the rain to the traffic to the sheer cost of the games. But, when the 100 meters has been run, the divers have made their last splash, and Olympic torch is extinguished, then it will be back to corruption as usual. The truth about the extent to which Scotland Yard policemen were bribed by tabloid news reporters has yet to come out, but it surely will. This criminal activity was only part of a greater miasma of seedy activities by hack reporters who have long considered the combination of journalism and integrity an oxymoron. Lurking only slightly below the surface in this case are the overly intimate ties between Rupert Murdoch and his media managers and Prime Minister David Cameron and his associates.
But other centers of the UK establishment are in trouble as well. The venerable Bank of England has much to account for as investigations unfold into massive manipulation of interest rates by Barclays Bank and other major financial services firms. Nobody yet knows the real costs to British citizens of the manipulations, but the truth will win out in time. And, increasingly, people will ask why this crookery could have run on for many years without the UK regulators of the banks investigating. Records from the New York Federal Reserve Board show the Bank of England was made aware of the corrupt practices more than three years ago.
And then, just a few days ago the US Senate published a 350 page report on massive money-laundering activities, involving Mexican drug rings and other crooks, that involved HSBC, the giant bank headquartered in London. Institutions like Barclays and HSBC are part of the British establishment and they have perpetrated wrong-doing on an enormous scale.
What I find so fascinating amid all these UK scandals is the belief that I think is widespread in the establishment itself that the mess will resolve itself, the severity of the damage will be muted by the Olympic joy and dissipate in a no doubt damp English summer. It will not.
Serious journalists, ardent public prosecutors, outraged UK parliamentarians, will ensure, I believe, that justice is done. The smoking guns in each case will be seen to be e-mails that prosecutors will bring into the courts and the public domain that the perpetrators of the corrupt acts will wish they had never written. The UK scandals may now be placed on hold for a few weeks, but the fall will see the full force of the avalanche that could bury the careers and prospects of many at the very helm of the British establishment.