BRITAIN may be about to quit Europe’s political super state but our seat at the semi-secret top table of world finance, alongside our European partners, remains secure.
In recent years Mark Carney, governor of the Bank of England, and his predecessor Sir Mervyn King have spent many a Sunday evening attending meetings of the Bank of International Settlements in Basel, Switzerland.
There’s no official agenda, nor minutes and no press statements are made – but here financial decisions are taken that affect the well-being of countries as well as individuals.
More worrying perhaps as unearthed by journalist Adam Lebor in his highly interesting book The Tower of Basel, we are co-operating with a financial institution that helped fund the Nazis both before and during World War Two.
BIS, which is barely known of outside the shadowy world of global finance, was founded in 1930 to tackle the thorny issue of German reparations following the First World War.
It was also seen as a clearing bank for central banks. It was never a place where ordinary individuals could open an account, it’s clients included the likes of the Bank of England alongside the central banks of Germany, France and many others.
From its inception it carried the status of a ‘free state’. This is an immunity shared by the likes of Vatican City, the City of London and part of Washington DC.
Its first president Gales McGarrah summed up: “The Bank is completely removed from any governmental or political control.”
It also has its own police or security force and legal assurances that its employees can not be prosecuted for carrying out their business.
Only last year former trader Ronald Bernard exposed the BIS as being the self-appointed head of global finance, overseeing transactions that can have devastating results.
Its initial aim of ensuring justice after the First World War quickly foundered due to a combination of German influence among the bank’s hierarchy and financial realities.
In short, it suited a world central bank far more to have a functioning German economy than to bring them to account for their sins.
The result was that German reparations were reduced and reduced, until they were finally cancelled altogether.
The rise of Hitler and the Nazis was another distinct positive for the BIS and its British representatives.
Even gold obtained from Czechoslovakia when Germany annexed part of the country was given safe passage into bank vaults.
During the conflict itself, the financial world continued. International borders and morality are easily sidestepped when money can be made – and wars are and always have been a major source of income.
The BIS welcomed the emergence of the European Union and were responsible for the establishment of the Euro as a major currency.
Even the financial crash of a few years ago has done little to affect the bank’s huge profits whilst their official position has been to support austerity in a bit to control inflation.
Messrs King and Carney have dined royally with fellow bankers at the BIS, safe in the knowledge that the general public knows little about the bank and its dubious history.
But, thanks to the work of Lebor, Bernard and others, light is just beginning to be shone on those unelected few who hold the financial destinies of much of mankind at their fingertips.