So Dermot Desmond is in the news again.
Or rather, one of the many businesses in which he has a stake is in the news again.
It’s the bank, the one that was in the headlines some months ago after regulators levied a big fine on it for a variety of offences including sanction busting. That’s at the centre of the latest claims too, this time involving Russia and the Ukraine.
First things first, the banking industry is full of this and the people involved in it range from mid-level executives to those at the very top.
When criminal charges are leveled convictions are usually pretty easy to secure, because banking isn’t exactly the secretive world some like to suggest. Every transaction leaves a record. People inside these institutions take big chances because the rewards are very big. There’s also hopelessly lax regulation, which makes getting away with this kind of thing, at least in terms of avoiding scrutiny, far too easy.
This is not an attempt at whatabouttery. It’s my way of saying that if governments wanted to beef up regulations and scrutiny I’d vote for it. If they wanted to go after every corrupt executive at every bank in the land I’d be in favour of it. If they wanted to lock people up and throw away the key you would hear not one word of complaint from me.
I’ve said this many times, but one more time won’t hurt; when someone can present some facts, something that I can actually see and use to verify suspicion, something that offers a smoking gun, an irrefutable link between Dermot Desmond and underhanded activity – and I’m not even necessarily talking about criminal activity – then I’ll do the editorials they plainly want to see, those which suggest he and Celtic should sever their ties.
But Dermot Desmond has been at the centre of allegations for years and not one charge has ever been filed against him.
Not one allegation of criminal impropriety has ever been proven.
He has never been in court, far less stood trial, far less convicted of something.
We’re not talking about Dodgy Dave King here, or Craig Whyte.
This guy is an international renowned businessman, with impeccable social and political connections.
If top level investigators with the resources of government behind them couldn’t find evidence to link him to wrong-doing the trailer trash of Sevconia certainly isn’t.
I think corrupt executives should be hunted to wherever it is they lay their hats. They cost us all, not only in terms of tax revenues but in the moral corruption of government. They are the polluters killing the planet, those who fund wars, the money launderers for drug cartels and the finance houses for fundamentalist organisations … I have no love for the so-called Princes of Capitalism. That should go without saying.
But all this is just rank speculation.
There’s not a single shred of proof, not one, that Desmond is involved in any of that stuff.
Do I believe he amassed that fortune without breaking some rules? Does anyone? Is it even possible to attain such wealth without bending a principle along the way? I highly doubt it. But I’ll declare him unfit and improper when actual evidence of it is in the public domain and not before.
Here’s the other thing; I won’t be all that bothered if that day ever comes.
This is another of these things I feel like I have to repeat over and over again; Dermot Desmond is our largest shareholder.
He does not bankroll the club.
He brings gravitas and weight to the board because he is high profile, loaded and connected. But what he does not bring to Celtic, and never has, is the role some of the muppets who want this “investigated” (by who?) seem to believe; he has never been a sugar-daddy.
There are rumours of his paying the wages of players like Keane … even if it’s true, how is that different from directors loans to pay bills? And there’s never been one shred of proof offered that he actually did that anyway. Yet even if such proof were there … funding the salary of one loanee is not the same as throwing tens of millions at the team.
Let me repeat this for the hard of thinking; none of this violates football regulations and that’s what we’re concerned with here.
He isn’t enabling us to spend more than we earn.
We’re not talking about him using Celtic as a clearing house for undeclared income.
The club is not dependent on his largesse or even his business acumen … we have one or two similarly smart people on the board you know.
He’s not even our only bona-fide billionaire shareholder.
This is fodder for the gossip columns and that’s about all.
Dermot Desmond is not Celtic and Celtic is not Dermot Desmond.
When this blog and others talk about sporting integrity the clue is the first word not the second; we’re concerned with the impact scandal has on the sport itself.
People’s private financial matters are exactly that and if they want to take their chances with the regulators and the Revenue that’s their own lookout and I hope every one of them gets caught because I do care about it peripheral to the sport … but in terms of Scottish football it’s meaningless until people are actually convicted … as King was, as Whyte was.
If the day ever comes when Dermot Desmond is, he will resign from Celtic’s board before anyone has to encourage him to.
And you know what? In some ways we’ll miss him.
But the club will replace him on the board, his shares will be redistributed and on the show will go … we will not miss his billions because he never spent them on us. We will not miss his team-talks because he is not the manager. We will not miss his day-to-day running of the club because that role belongs to Peter Lawwell.
And Desmond’s critics in the media know all of this.
The whole purpose isn’t to smear the man … all they can do is link his name to unsavoury deeds.
Not one editorial will suggest Celtic is tainted by association, because to do even that would be to suggest, however obliquely, that Dermot Desmond himself is corrupt and there’s not a newspaper in the land who will, without evidence, level such a charge or even hint at it … no, this is little more than an attempt at moral equivalence whilst calls for an SFA inquiry into the goings on at Ibrox and Hampden are still ringing in people’s ears.
And it’s pathetic and it’s futile.
The SevcoNuts have, as usual, got themselves a chew-toy to amuse them as their club crumbles from within. I am glad their focus is where it shouldn’t be rather than on where it is, and so whilst they cheer themselves with the thought that Europol will dig into Desmond’s businesses and find the threads that unravel everything Celtic has built we’ll go on doing what we’re doing and their own club will continue to rot.
As usual they have all they need to get them through the darkness a while.
All they need, except the facts.
You can’t tell them the facts.
They believe only what they want to.