The ‘fraudster’ meaning, of course, Jacques Chirac. The new president of the European Central Bank is M. Jean-Claude Trichet and buried away at the foot of an old news report is this gem:
Mr Trichet’s nomination was made possible earlier this week when he was cleared of involvement in the Credit Lyonnais banking scandal in the 1990s. He was one of nine men on trial for their part in the affair, which culminated in a €31bn ($33.7bn) bailout by the government.
That is more than £21,000,000,000! For one bank. Nine people. I can just hear them: “Bah! Nick Leeson! “Betsygate” indeed! You English drive your minis with your Benny Hill and your Michael Caine, stealing a few gold bars in Milan and think you’re so marvellous! Hah!”
The Crédit Lyonnais bank ‘affair’ included a massive fraud including loans being made to friends of the late president François Mitterand. At least one of them got a few months in jail to my knowledge. A concerted effort was made to delay the appointment of a new ECB president until M. Trichet’s problems could be dealt with. Ironically, the French verb for to cheat is tricher which is pronounced exactly the same as our new Euro bank president’s name. A very suitable friend for M. Jacques Chirac. The president whose unofficial re-election campaign slogan was Vote for the fraudster, not the fascist! but who has avoided judicial processes by virtue of presidential immunity from prosecution. So much in common for them to talk about.
Now let us assume that M. Trichet were the innocent victim of devious bank subordinates who stole £21,000 million. Personally, I find such a degree of stupidity fantastic: the guy could scarcely have enough brain cells to know how to breathe. Is this really the calibre of executive to put in charge of an EU institution?
A couple of other things worry me. What did the other European leaders think they were doing when none of then vetoed the appointment of Trichet? Perhaps Mr Blair really is a closet hater of the euro – I hope so. And if the currency markets are not dumping euros for US dollars before M. Chirac’s friends get their pillaging underway… what do they know about what the Federal Reserve guys are up to?