Women and children first, so the mantra goes. It would certainly seem to be so in the case of Portugal.
Whilst I was double checking some facts before I wrote on Angola the other day, I fell over some interesting information. We are about to play a bailout game of ‘Find the Lady’s Pound’ – so make sure you keep a close eye on her as I move the cups around…
When we think of ‘Bank Bailouts’ we think of a ‘run on the banks’; we think of the ordinary working man and woman going to the bank for their weekly food shop and finding that the bank has no money to give them, but that is not exactly what happens. The so called ‘bank bailouts’ actually go to the owners of the banks, the shareholders. True, in some cases those shareholders comprise the oft quoted ‘widows and orphans funds’, and pension funds, but they can equally be some exceedingly wealthy individuals.
Keep your beady eye on our ‘Lady’, she is off round the international banking crisis. Here she goes.
This is our ‘Lady’, she was earned by Jane Doe, a school dinner lady in Middlesborough. Jane could have done with hanging onto that pound, she worked hard enough for it, but it was taken out of her wages and handed to the government. Jane would tell you that she supports the NHS, thinks our Police are wonderful and doesn’t really mind that much helping to pay for all that. But Jane’s Pound coin is off to a far more exotic home.
You might catch a fleeting glimpse of Jane’s Pound as it passes through the Treasury, but you would have to be quick, it is off to Washington, USA, into the headquarters of the International Monetary Fund, courtesy of the agreement that Gordon Brown made.
It won’t stay there long, for it has already been promised to Portugal, as part of a 78 billion Euro bailout, that the BBC says is essential to prevent the ordinary working man from finding himself with no money in the Bank. (Cue shot of ordinary working man queueing up outside Northern Rock).
Keep a close watch, for that coin won’t be in Portugal for long. The Portuguese Government have promised to bail out the Portuguese Banks with 1.5 billion, you know the script by now, to make sure the ordinary man in the street etc, etc.
Amongst the Banks that they are forcing the Portuguese Taxpayers to bail out, bolstered by all the other contributors to the IMF, including our school dinner lady’s pound coin, is the Banco Português de Investimento S.A. usually known as the BPI for short.Even this isn’t exotic enough for Jane Doe’s coin. For the bailout is actually going to the shareholders of the BPI. And that is where I pricked my ears up. For an entire fifth of the bank is owned by Isabel dos Santos. Or put it another way, 20% of that 1.5 Billion bailout is going to be handed to Isabel. She used to own a mere 10% of it, but quite recently she stumped up another €46 Million to bump that up to 19%. She’s definitely not short of a bob or two. She might be a very nice girl for all I know – but she’s not Portuguese. Nope, Jane’s coin is on the move again.
Other than buying a selling large slices of European Banks, and the major share of the biggest Portuguese cable company, ZON, we don’t know how Isabel came by her Billions. Perhaps she had a wealthy husband? She married Sindika Dokolo and his Father owned the Bank of Kinshasa, all of it. But then President Mobuto seized it all and the family was ruined – Perhaps she had a wealthy Father? As it happens, we know precisely what Isabel’s Father earns – the wonders of the Internet. He is paid roughly the equivalent of $5,000 a month. He has seven children to support, and a wife. And one of those children, Isabel, can just stump up the money to double her holding in a Portuguese Bank. One that is in such trouble it is only a month away from a 1.5 billion bailout…
Perhaps it does help when Daddy is President of a country that is renown for its corruption and the ability to lose billions of dollars in oil revenue that its poverty stricken citizens need more than most in the world. He has been for the past 30 years.
If you can explain to me why Jane Doe is ladling out chicken nuggets and cold custard to Middlesbrough kids in order to put money into the swollen bank account of Isabel dos Santos, daughter of the President of Angola, in less than 73,000 complicated words, do please mail it to me. I’d like to be able to explain to Jane why her hard won pound ended up there, but I’m lost for words…