News Thomas Molloy

Sunday 4 December 2016

We cheat because we can - always have and always will

Published 06/08/2014 | 02:30

Disgraced financier Bernie Madoff
Disgraced financier Bernie Madoff

WHEN Ronald Reagan began talks on nuclear disarmament with former Soviet Union leader Mikhail Gorbachev, the US president quoted a popular Russian proverb which translates as "trust but verify".

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Variations of this adage are used by most financial services companies today - and with good reason; we are all prone to cheat, which is why we need oversight.

It was ever thus. Fraud is an endlessly fruitful plot line in literature. Fans of Dickens and other 19th century Victorian writers will know that embezzlement, swindling and fraud are found in many plot lines. Those who read the financial pages of this newspaper will know that nothing has changed. From the spectacular swindles of the US and Irish banks which encouraged thousands of customers to cheat all the way to Bernie Madoff, or jailed former TD Ivor Callely, everybody is at it.

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