Scam

It is a smart City worker, the chairman declares, who can make a half-dignified exit during a raid by the boys in blue when certain dubious lunch-hour activities are in progress…

”Does the stupidity of bankers know no bounds?” sighed the chairman of the implausibly-sized investment company ­Second Coming Asset Management as we enjoyed a pint or two of Maverick Activity at The Casual Lunch.

“Well, I don’t think we want to be around if those limits are ever discovered,” I replied. “What particularly – out of a pretty long list – makes you ask?”

“It’s this story doing the rounds about the bankers recently busted by police during some lunchtime raids on several City-adjacent houses of ill repute,” said the chairman.

“Horizontal lunches?” I said, raising an eyebrow. “That’s a bit low-rent, isn’t it?”

“I’d have thought that rather depends on the calibre of ­person with whom one is, er, lunching,” said the chairman.

”We have a whole Scam Quick Guide on the subject – or is it a Scam Guide to Quickies?”

“No, I mean members of Her Majesty’s financial services industry spending their lunch breaks in brothels is a bit tacky,” I said.

“Oh yes, completely,” agreed the chairman. “Setting aside the question of whether the cost of ’lunch’ at ’Madame Fifi’s’ or ’Spankers’ or wherever will succeed as an expenses claim these days, it’s just so much classier to use a hotel.

“Which brings us to just why I’m now despairing about the IQ levels of the average banker.”

“You mean beyond subprime lending, RBS, the credit crunch, Northern Rock, the inability to work out how to pass on the benefits of QE to liquidity-starved businesses?” I asked.

“Oh those,” the chairman almost snorted. “Could have happened to anyone. No, what I can’t understand is how any bank could possibly employ somebody who tries to escape a police raid by jumping out of a window while his trousers are round his ankles. One seriously has to wonder what they’re teaching at induction courses nowadays.”

“So you’re telling me Scam has an approved method for exiting such establishments while pursued by the police?” (Scam continues below)

“If you fail to prepare then you must prepare to fail,” the chairman replied, apparently without anything that might be mistaken for irony. “Actually we have a whole Scam Quick Guide on the subject – or is it a Scam Guide to Quickies?

“Mind you, the sort of strategy one should adopt for a Plod-induced self-defenestration strikes me as fairly commonsensical – either you take the extra second or two to button up or you jump out of the window, clothes in hand, and finish dressing on the ground. What one absolutely does not do is attempt the manoeuvre with one’s trousers at knee-level.”

“Words to live by,” I observed. “Now, changing the subject completely, I was wondering if you’ve ever come across a firm called Ebullio Capital Management?”

“Oh yes,” the chairman nodded. “The Scam multi-manager team have large positions in some of its funds. Why?”

“I saw a copy of its newsletter, which seemed pretty noteworthy even by fund manager standards,” I replied. “It began: ’February 2010 was the worst month in the history of the Ebullio Commodity Fund and we regret to report a return of minus 86.25% for the month, which brings our total return for the year to minus 95.83% and to minus 89.63% since inception.’

“It notes how ’extraordinary circumstances’ forced the liquidation of parts of the physical book as well as some ’long-held speculative positions’ and concludes: ’Most managers would probably try to hush this up … but we have always been about transparency and, having broadcast our winning months, we are going to do the same with our (albeit quite a lot more spectacular) losers and take the heat.”

“Ah,” said the chairman. “Well, perhaps the Scam multi-manager team don’t have quite as large positions in some of the company’s funds as I thought.”

“Or at least not quite as large as they used to have?”

“Still,” said the chairman. “You’ve got to admire their front.”

“As the arresting officer said to the …” I began.

“Don’t,” said the chairman.