2007: U23D – Owens & Pellington
Finding someone to trust with your money is never an easy task. There are often sorry stories in the media about well-known people that have been duped or taken advantage of. This is not a problem unique to celebrity, but clearly to some, the rich and famous are “fair game”. Sadly the impact of being taken advantage of invariably leaves the victim in the position of being less able to trust anyone – particularly in regard to money. Adam Clayton, the bassist from my favourite band U2 has recently experienced this problem.
Adam, like many busy people, employed a personal assistant, but this one embezzled over £2m from his various accounts to fund a lavish lifestyle. Carol Hawkins was convicted of over 180 thefts over a 4 year period. Sadly, this was someone that had worked for him for 17 years. Her employment had originally begun simply by looking after his home. Her husband became his driver and as she became more trusted, she also looked after his books and was made a signatory on two of his bank accounts. There is no doubt about her guilt (according to the court). This is not the sort of 3D experience that U2 would have wanted but living someone else’s lifestyle may be even better than the real thing for Mrs Hawkins.
Standing back, it is perhaps easy to suggest that allowing her access to bank accounts was not a shrewd move. Whilst she may have earned his absolute trust, she was not qualified for the role. However, once you trust someone, it is difficult to appreciate how this may be misplaced. History teaches us that the wrong pressures at the wrong times can make anyone vulnerable to behaving in a manner that would not be “normal”. This is one reason why I have never wanted discretionary powers over a portfolio, which is similar, but usually far bigger than a personal bank account. To my mind, it is better to remove any possibility of “temptation”. If that is too candid a statement, reflect for a moment on the Banking crisis, where there has been a plethora of lies, fraud and market manipulation by some of the most revered Banking names in the world, many of whom you would probably find to be great dining company – provided that unlike the gingerbread man, you don’t become the meal.
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