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But an 888-Bwin combination makes far stronger industrial sense than a GVC buy-and-break-up job.
But in the banking world, another question is: who monitors the monitors?
So many of these deals have been cut that there’s now a booming industry of specialist monitoring firms making a killing from these miscreant institutions.
You might not recognise their names, but be assured, Exiger, Navigant, Treliant are extremely familiar in the companies they’re monitoring. Standard Chartered’s additional fine of $300 million (£195 million) last year stemmed from Navigant’s investigations into its poor controls, The Wall Street Journal reported today.
Their effectiveness is little wonder: most are run by former state prosecutors cashing in on their public service knowledge.
And when I say cashing in, I mean it: monitors charge $1200 an hour to hunt down further wrongdoing — all paid for by the banks. The banks shouldn’t have been so cavalier in the first place.
True, but now the monitoring firms are getting greedy. So, as the WSJ reports, Navigant sold its services privately as a compliance adviser to Western Union, which had been accused of aiding money laundering tied to human smuggling.Not content with the contracts they get from courts and watchdogs, they’re flogging private consultancy work direct to misbehaving banks. Although Western Union’s state-appointed monitor had concerns about the bank’s clean-up progress, Navigant wrote favourable reports. Why are full details of the affair not made public?Details are shrouded in secrecy, but Western Union complained about the state appointee’s work and he was fired. But more fundamentally, monitors should only be allowed to work one side of the game.A week eating Devon pasties and I return to find still no resolution to the Bwin takeover.Today sees 888 up its bid beyond 110p by increasing the number of shares it’s offering.This latest tilt is hardly thrilling: Bwin would prefer to have seen more cash, I’m sure.