Trust: The Foreign Office Hums It & Charles Bowman Fakes It

We haven’t spotted any coverage of Charles Bowman’s visit to Nigeria in the UK press yet, but there’s been some reportage elsewhere and the Foreign Office has published the transcript of a Lagos speech online. Bowman was promoting trust in business, British banks and FinTech; in short what some of us who live directly under the financial dictatorship currently headed by Bowman view as City of London money scams. In covering Bowman’s Nigeria jaunt local journalists showed no interest in the trust theme the Chief Crony hammered away at yet again, or in exposing the City of London as being the capstone in a network of tax havens that suck in hot money from around the world:

The Lord Mayor of London, global ambassador for the UK’s financial and professional services industry, is visiting Nigeria at the head of a City and business delegation this week with the aim of strengthening trade links with the City of London.

Charles Bowman, the Lord Mayor, will meet government and business leaders, regulators, and trade bodies in Abuja and Lagos, including the Vice President of Nigeria, Yemi Osinbajo.

He will be discussing how the City of London works with companies from across the world as they invest for growth domestically and abroad, and the importance of maintaining those links. He will also highlight the close capital markets relationship between the UK and Nigeria as the London Stock Exchange supports growing Nigerian businesses, as well as how London’s booming FinTech sector can partner with Nigerian businesses of the future…

Lord Mayor Bowman, the 690th incumbent of a role that dates back centuries, is the head of London’s ‘Square Mile,’ or financial district, and has plans to visit 27 countries over the course of his year in office. Charles Bowman is an accountant by profession, and is a Senior Partner at PwC in London.

The Lord Mayor will be visiting Nigeria accompanied by a delegation of City figures, as well as a business delegation of leading City firms including Open Vector, The London Stock Exchange Group, and CWEIC…

In a statement from the UK’s ambassador to Nigeria, Paul Arkwright said:

“I’m delighted that the Lord Mayor of the City of London is coming to Nigeria. His visit demonstrates the interest for Nigeria that exists among providers of financial services, insurance services and legal services in the UK. It demonstrates that there are a lot more opportunities for win-win partnerships and learning across our two countries that we want to capitalise on.

Lord Mayor of London visits Nigeria to boost financial sector links by Modestus Anaesoronye, Business Day Online, June 28, 2018.

Elsewhere the story was configured this way:

LAGOS (Reuters) – Britain and Nigeria are exploring ways to list naira-denominated bonds on the London Stock Exchange to help fund infrastructure projects in the West African country, the City of London’s Lord Mayor told Reuters.

Charles Bowman, who acts as an ambassador for the British capital’s financial district, made the comments during a three-day visit to Nigeria during which he held talks with the vice president, trade minister and representatives of both Nigeria’s stock exchange and central bank.

Nigeria, once a darling for frontier investors, suffered its worst recession in a generation in 2016 after the price of its main export – oil – collapsed. It has since recovered but growth is fragile, with dilapidated infrastructure holding it back.

“We are looking at clever methods of essentially being able to list, by way of example naira-denominated bonds, but having those listed on the London Stock Exchange. Having local bonds with an access point into the London Stock Exchange,” said Bowman.

Bowman, speaking to Reuters in an interview in Nigeria’s commercial capital Lagos, did not provide specific details of who had been involved in the talks, how advanced discussions were or when such a move could take place.

“We have a lot of capital in London but we don’t have the projects to support. Nigeria has lots of projects to support and not the capital – you are reliant on the banking structure,” said Bowman.

“Unleash the capital market, link London and Nigeria and what a great opportunity,” he said.

Britain and Nigeria exploring ways to list naira bonds in London by Reuters with editing from Chijioke Ohuocha and Didi Akinyelure, Euronews, 29 June 2018.

How wealth is distributed and whether it is horded by the wealthy (AKA ‘invested’ at usurous rates) or deployed for social good is a political decision. The Chief Crony’s claim there is ‘a lot of capital in London’ but not ‘the projects to support’ is telling. Listening to Bowman you’d think there wasn’t a massive need to build social housing in London and across the UK, let alone a funding crisis in the National Health Service. And rather than getting loans and other over-priced financial ‘services’, Nigeria deserves reparations from its colonial and neo-colonial exploiters. Ignoring the real issues Bowman prefers to drone on about trust:

We can all recognise that since the global financial crisis, public trust in business and finance has been sharply eroded, both in the UK and throughout the world.

I believe that we have a responsibility – indeed a duty, to rebuild public trust so that people can regain confidence in our respective industries. That is why I have made the Business of Trust a personal priority for my year in office. Working towards, helping to create, a lasting legacy of better business trusted by society.

Trust is at the heart of everything we do. It is the cornerstone and fundamental foundation to trade. Trade generates the prosperity, which in turn creates the social cohesion that provides the stability, that results in security for us all.

I’ve had many engaging conversations about the importance of trust during my visit. And looking ahead to the elections in February, I think we can all recognise the importance of a fair, free, credible and peaceful democratic process in strengthening that foundation of trust and building on the progress Nigeria has made…

The City of London’s Offer to Nigeria: Charles Bowman speaks on trade opportunities between the City of London and Nigeria. Published 29 June 2018 by UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office. Speech delivered on 28 June 2018.

Leaving aside Bowman’s paternalism as he waffles about progress in Nigeria, it is rather rich of him to highlight the importance of the ‘democratic process’ when he and most of his colleagues in the City of London are ‘elected’ on undemocratic business votes and treat the actual residents of the local authority they administer with complete disdain; all the while gallivanting around the world promoting the interests of the finance industry and ultra-high net worth individuals at the expense of local people in the City of London and billions more around the globe. We’ve already made it clear we don’t trust Charles Bowman and we think anyone who does must be deluded. Shortly before Bowman headed off to Nigeria even the Financial Times was pouring cold water on his Business of Trust agenda:

The great and the grey of the tax advisory world flocked to Mansion House on Tuesday for a debate on gaining public trust in the tax system. Lord Mayor Charles Bowman oversaw the event, with speakers including PwC’s Kevin Nicholson and Chris O’Shea, head of the FTSE 100 FDs lobby group. City Insider heard insights on the tax avoidance/evasion “mix-up”, as well as on the clueless public: many who hate inheritance tax aren’t actually wealthy enough to be impacted by it, and those who rail against avoidance probably also “pay their cleaners in cash”. Insults — that’s clearly the way to win trust.

Charles Bowman: cleaning up, Opinion City Insider by Patrick Jenkins, Financial Times, 22 June 2018.

When even those who are Bowman’s natural allies mock his pet mayoral project, it is peculiar he should claim in the Lagos speech cited above, ‘my Business of Trust is resonating everywhere I go.’ If we were feeling generous we might conclude the Chief Crony is incorrectly using ‘resonating’ to mean ‘generating loud and uncontrollable laughter’. He may be the ‘Lord Mayor of London’ but he’s still a complete plonker.

Pippa Henslowe.

BowmanHumsSmall
Charles Bowman, not someone we’d trust….

Notes.

Lord Mayor of London visits Nigeria to boost financial sector links by Modestus Anaesoronye at Internet Archive: https://web.archive.org/web/20180629213221/http://www.businessdayonline.com/news/article/lord-mayor-london-visits-nigeria-boost-financial-sector-links/

Britain and Nigeria exploring ways to list naira bonds in London by Reuters with editing from Chijioke Ohuocha and Didi Akinyelure at Internet Archive: https://web.archive.org/web/20180629222644/http://www.euronews.com/2018/06/29/britain-and-nigeria-exploring-ways-to-list-naira-bonds-in-london-lord-mayor

The City of London’s Offer to Nigeria: Charles Bowman speaks on trade opportunities between the City of London and Nigeria: https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/the-city-of-londons-offer-to-nigeria

Charles Bowman: cleaning up, Opinion City Insider by Patrick Jenkins, Financial Times, 22 June 2018: https://www.ft.com/content/61b6fbc4-754a-11e8-b6ad-3823e4384287

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