Although the newly hedge-funded CoOperative Group announced today that it won’t sell the insurance division to fill its debt hole – because it ‘no longer needs to’ – the news was rapidly dampened by the decision of regulator the FRC to further probe the Co-op Bank’s finances.
The Financial Reporting Council (FRC) is especially interested in scrutinising the 2012 audit statements, according to regulatory insiders. This is a blow to those hoping for a quiet retirement despite strong allegations of fund misuse, corruption, and FSA failures that look more suspicious than mere incompetence.
But the biggest blow of all is to the potential career of Labour Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls.
In a hard-hitting piece last October, The Slog argued that ‘during fiscal year 2011/12, the Cooperative Group made a one-off payment to Edward Balls of £50,000 under a heading described thus:”Furthermore, £50,000 was also donated to the Labour Party to support the Shadow Chancellor’s office”. Myself and others have looked into this donation. It is unprecedented.’
By 18th November, Balls was facing calls to return the £50000 ‘donation’ linked to former bank chief Paul Flowers, a man caught buying A-Class drugs and thus obviously in full command of his senses. But because of his appalling stammer, Mr Balls was unable to declare his innocence, while his staunch mutual principles forced him to keep the cash.
However, just when Edward Michael Balls thought it had all gone away oop no it hasn’t. Two hours ago, Ed Miliband was forced to insist that Balls will remain in place until the election despite reports Labour MPs are unhappy with his performance: A weekend poll for the Observer carried out by Opinium found just 18% believed Labour would be the best custodians of the economy. One anonymous Labour MP bravely spoke out to observe, “Balls used to throw his weight around in shadow cabinet meetings and ignore Ed Miliband when he spoke. Now he’s out of sorts”.
Mind you, he is also out of jail so it’s not all bad news.